For the second time in four years, Smithsonian magazine has been nominated for the “General Excellence, Special Interest” award by the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME). Given to publications that serve “highly defined reader communities,” the “Ellie,” nicknamed after the award’s elephant shape, is the top recognition in the magazine industry.
In the submission to the judges, editor in chief Michael Caruso wrote, “We are, at heart, a history magazine, a distinction that shapes our coverage of science, technology and culture.” He added, “We give readers a fresh understanding of the past and how history continually affects the way we live now.” In 2018, the magazine published single issues devoted to 1968, which included articles commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive and landmark moments in the civil rights movement, and to diaries of the Holocaust, which featured an exclusive translation of the journals of a young Polish girl named Renia Spiegel.
Smithsonian also highlights important historical events in its new Prologue section that appears in the front of each issue.
In addition to the general excellence recognition, Smithsonian magazine correspondent Jeff MacGregor was nominated for feature writing for his article about lionfish, the invasive species taking over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The story, published in the June issue, chronicled how a ragtag army of divers and chefs are waging war against the fish that is devastating the ecosystem of the Gulf.
“It’s always great to be honored by the magazine industry in this way,” says Caruso. “But our real goal is to inform and entertain our smart and curious readers, and to maintain the gold standard of the Smithsonian name.”
The awards have been given out by ASME since 1966 and are co-sponsored by Columbia University. Since its founding in 1970, Smithsonian has been nominated for general excellence five times. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in New York City on March 14, 2019.