On April 25 Editor-in-Chief Chip Blake accepted the 2010 General Excellence award on behalf of Orion in person; you can read his remarks below.
It’s very humbling to receive this award. The other finalists in the category of General Excellence are magazines that we at Orion regard much more as teachers than as competition, and I salute the staffs of those magazines for their accomplishments.
Thanks to Utne Reader and Ogden Publications for organizing and sponsoring these awards. Utne, not just through these awards but also through their magazine, does much to raise awareness of many good publications and, beyond that, to promote collegiality between those publications.
I’d also like to thank the staff of Orion and our board of directors. We have an amazing staff of highly talented people who care deeply about the world.
Three nights ago I was at the National Magazine Awards in New York City, as I know many of you were as well. They did not give us dinner, but it was cool to see Brooke Shields and Anna Wintour and her entourage. But the thing that really struck me was the number of winners who, in their acceptance remarks, felt compelled or obliged to thank their advertisers, in particular “the advertisers who stuck with us through tough times.” It’s understood that last year was a hard year for magazines, and it’s understood too that many magazines, including many of the ones represented here tonight, depend on advertising. But I do not think it is a good proposition for magazines, when giving thanks for their successes, to begin with their advertisers.
At Orion, conversations about the magazine begin with the reader. They begin in the belief that there are many readers who are looking for high-quality storytelling and reporting. They begin in the belief that those readers will support the publications that deliver high-quality storytelling and reporting. And they begin in a belief that social transformation starts with personal transformation, and that reading, reflection, and communication play an essential role in the process of personal transformation.
And before we accept that all corporate magazines are beyond thinking about the reader, let me say that the only editor at the National Magazine Awards who mentioned their readers in their acceptance remarks was Cindy Leive of Glamour, and it was Glamour that was awarded the prize for Magazine of the Year.
And so, without getting into yet another manifesto about the future of publishing, I would like to propose that the successful magazines of the future, whatever their topic and whatever their format, will be the ones that are built around their readers, that honor their readers, and that never underestimate their readers. And so I accept this award on behalf of Orion’s readers, and on behalf of all of your readers, and on behalf of all of you, who do such good work in independent publishing. Thank you.