The Satchel Awards 2010

The Satchel Awards 2010

Golden Globes, schmolden globes. This week we celebrate those rare gems of editorial excellence that enlightened, inspired, comforted, humoured and resonated with us in 2010. 

Close to the (some might say bleeding) heart of The Satchel, they are also simply deserving of time in the spotlight.

Definitive Cover of the Year: The Shame of Afghanistan by TIME

Imagine if this shot had appeared on the cover of marie claire or Glamour. What a powerful message that would have sent about women's causes! But would you have bought it? And would it have secured the media prominence of TIME? With magazine covers and editorials going viral as they do, my bet is yes.

Still, TIME can lay claim to all the glory for taking a chance on an illiterate Afghani woman who has come to represent the new frontier for feminism: global equal rights for women. As author Maggie Alderson articulated to me in November, as long as the Taliban exists, so too is there a reason for feminism.

Since sitting for the July cover, Aisha – who was mutilated and left to die after running away from her abusive in-laws – has visited Manhattan, described by The Times journalist Will Pavia as "a vast city decorated with brightly lit evergreen trees and giant pictures of men and women in tightly fitted clothing", and has had reconstructive surgery on her nose and ears, which puts a whole new spin on one of the other big surgery stories of the year: Heidi Montag.

"She is a beautiful woman, even without her nose," said Esther Hyneman, a trustee of Women for Afghan Women. "She wears make-up, she likes to go and have her hair coloured and styled... She wears Uggs, skinny pants, a pea jacket."

While debates circulate about the burqa being less oppressive for women than a western culture operating under the subordination of marketers, entertainers (here's looking at you, Kanye), fashion houses (hello, Karl, would you like some chips?) and media-makers (how helpful, MSN, to know "warrior woman" is the new body shape for 2011) intent on reminding us that sex and thin sell, Aisha's image empowered us to get talking about the atrocities committed against women by Islamic extremists and their ilk worldwide. But this is a human rights issue, not just a female one; a valuing all people issue, not just a West v (Middle) East one. And misogyny and hatred still rears its ugly head in the most evolved of societies.

Glossy of the Year: Frankie (Morrison Media)

More a community and lifestyle choice than a magazine, Frankie attracted oodles of positive press (and requisite critical analysis), as well as a stint on The 7:30 Report (as apposed to every editor's worst nightmare, Media Watch), off the back of its dramatic circulation increases and impressive readership debut.

Editor Jo Walker attributed her magazine's current success to "a rejection of the saturation of celebrity culture", "word of mouth", a "simple editorial ethos" of selecting "what excites us and what we think is cool and what we want to share with people" and treating every single page like "a precious commodity" in an interview with Mediaweek.

Frankie has harnessed the power of social media to connect with its readership – it has 83,776 Facebook friends, 22,409 Twitter followers and maintains a MySpace page with 12,596 friends. The website is an easy-to-navigate blog-style format with 50,000+ unique visitors per month and a weekly newsletter goes out to subscribers. Additionally, Frankie has also produced a series of brand extensions (events, journals, calendars, recipe books and most recently SPACES) to further spread the love.

The magazine's current list of contributors includes Benjamin Law, Justin Heazelwood, Marieke Hardy and Pip Lincolne, who pen personal essays, social commentaries and interviews for the magazine, while advertisers include Corona, Volcom, Australian Organics, Marc Jacobs Daisy (Coty), Rimmel London (Coty), Audi, American Apparel and MOR Cosmetics.

Runner-up: SHOP Til You Drop
Even though the shopping odds and cover-girl choices were against it, SHOP Til You Drop shone in 2010 with its upbeat editorial vibe and egalitarian approach to fashion.

"The aim of the game is that you should never put this mag down and feel bad about what you can't afford, can't fit into or are still hanging onto past its used-by date: we're not here to judge – we're just about making you feel good," wrote editor Justine Cullen in her August editor's letter.

Its status as one of the first Aussie glossies to adapt to the iPad, as well as featuring an eBoutique on its website, plus a respectable 5,422 Facebook friends and 12,146 Twitter followers, make this an ACP title to watch.

Some will point and call it a glorified, fashion-victim's catalogue (not us!), but the under-recognised little-mag-that-could hung in there with stable sales in a tricky climate. Plus, it brought shoes – and good cheer – to the street with its Great SHOP Shoe Drop. Though we love the inclusion of a range of women each issue, we'd like to see the mag take risk with its samey-samey cover subjects.

Glossip of the Year: Woman's Day (ACP Magazines)
I know – don't fall of your office chair. Hear me out. The Day – still Australia's top-selling weekly magazine – has done a wonderful about-turn since publishing those unflattering pictures of Therese Rein in her gym gear and contributing to the relationship split of one Lara Bingle and her beau. Since the September refresh, there's been a noticeably more positive editorial tone, local cover exclusives and a bigger, brighter fashion and lifestyle section. Who says a glossip can't change its spots? (No, we're not holding our breath.)

Runner-up: FAMOUS (Pacific Magazines)

The proof that FAMOUS is a magazine brand for our times is in the circulation and readership results – it was the only weekly to post a sales gain in the September 2010 Audit Bureau of Circulations survey. Cheeky but not snarky, FAMOUS is a friend to celebrities – particularly the Kardashian sisters, with whom it is infatuated – and maintains an excellent social media relationship with readers (3,318 Facebook friends; 9226 Twitter followers).

"When I was at NW years ago you could just put Britney on the cover and it didn't matter what the story was. People just wanted to read about Britney. People now are much more in tune with what's going on because effectively that information is much more available to them," Famous editor Gereurd Roberts told Mediaweek.

While we'd love to see the mag give the Kardashians a break (overkill! More creative pop-culture covers please!), we look forward to flicking through this irreverent guide to Celebriland each week.

Glossip Scoop of the Year: Lara Bingle's "Independence Day" interview with Maxine Frith for Grazia
What we loved best about this scoop is that it didn't involve any sneaky pap shots (much less one patched together in the art department) or, you know, making stuff up; it endeared us to both Bingle and Grazia.

"It's all about the exclusive," Grazia editor Alison Veness-McGourty told Mediaweek. "Something like Lara Bingle, I'd hope would translate into a good sale for us. It is a genuine exclusive. You're only as good as your story."

Of course, Grazia went and undid all the goodwill with its subsequent faux-pap shot of Bingle looking bedraggled in the company of a male friend (recalling to mind Bec Hewitt's beef with New Idea and giving us more reason to pen this), but it was nice to see a genuine, sympathetic, snark-free story scoop in Australia's fashion weekly. And Bingle looked like Alice in Wonderland on the cover.

Helen McCabe c/o
Glossy Editor of the Year: Helen McCabe, The Australian Women's Weekly
A consummate media professional, yet humble enough to admit she neglects to call her parents when on deadline, McCabe joined The Weekly in mid-2009 and has since used her news nous to transform the magazine into a highly credible monthly current-affairs must-read.

Putting paid to the suggestion that glossies can't break news, under McCabe's stewardship The Weekly has become a key political player, leading Andrew Welder to comment:

"So much for broadsheets, Sunday morning talk shows and talkback radio, not to mention the national broadcaster and the utterly otiose press gallery. Watch out for the mighty Weekly, ye media advisors and image consultants, and tremble when they come for you."

McCabe and her crew, including associate editor Bryce Corbett and senior contributor David Leser, went after Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, while the magazine itself underwent a redesign with requisite promotional campaign. Not averse to being light and fluffy (the December issue Natalie Gruzlewski cover feature a case in point), The Weekly also made ground in the body image department, more particularly with a commitment to presenting readers with a range of inspirational women from all walks of life...not just the halls of Nine Entertainment Co.   

Runner-up: Jo Elvin, British Glamour; Julia Zaetta, Better Homes & Gardens
Patriotic biases aside, Aussie expat Elvin has presided over Britain's number-one selling women's glossy for 10 years and ensured it held its game this year all the while undergoing a website redesign, hosting the feted Glamour Women of the Year Awards and co-judging The Great British Hairdresser, a new Apprentice-like reality show. She also took time out this year to chat to GWAS about her career, which was very kind. You can't put a price on nice. And her lovely personality emanates through her magazine's pages.

Also big on personality is Julia Zaetta, editor of the top-selling Better Homes & Gardens, which turns in a positive report card to publisher Pacific Magazines every time the circulation and readership data rolls around. It is almost getting embarrassing.

Best New Talent: Megan Moir Pardy, SHOP Til You Drop
 Any girl who likens herself to a "dancing elephant from Fantasia" gets our attention; but not because she's 'On The Plus Side'. Megan Moir Pardy has a nifty way with words and pop-culture referencing that has us scrambling to flick to her column when each new month's SHOP Til You Drop drops just so we can have a chuckle.  She puts a spring in our step.

Her latest column on cost-conscious shopping advises you to "treat cheap fabrics and crappily constructed items like an ex – smile when you run into them but under no circumstances pick them up", and warns, "A tight budget is not an excuse to look messy".

You can read more of her words on her blog, damn you alexis, or buy her same-named clothing line. It's almost a shame that she writes under the "plus-size" tag; because her words on shopping resonate as much with the thin as the not-so-trim: she's an everygirl's girl, the new Carrie Bradshaw, and an editor's dream.

Best Glossy Reads: Slow magazine, Issue Four
For people who think life's too fast, Slow magazine garnered a Publisher's Australia Excellence Award for its design this year, but it was the concept and copy that made us stop and enjoy the company of issue four with a cup of tea.

Slow brings together elements of Frankie, Real Living, Jamie, Top Gear and the late Vogue Entertaining + Travel. Though much of the content is parochial, the profile features bring out universal themes – of savouring life; of finding one's path; of having a laugh. This is a magazine with HEART.

Runner-up: Notebook:, November 2010
We fear News Magazines may have called it too early on Notebook:, which was just beginning to find its feet after undergoing a change in editorial tract. When reviewing the magazine, we noted, "While a small consolation for both the Notebook: team and its loyal readers, whose high-quality magazine has now ceased publication, what's left behind is a product to relish, file away and return to on a rainy day while listening to your collection of Norah Jones, Regina Spektor and Sade." Yes, we feel nostalgic already.

Best Glossy Design: Inside Out

Each issue of this News Magazines title, which celebrated 10 years in print this year, as well as the installation of a new editor (Richard Waller), is like a gift. The styling, layouts, typography and photography, produced under the creative direction of Tracy Lines and acting art director Beth Donson, have a vintagey-scrapbooky-schoolbooky feel with enough vast white space to let us breathe. Since undergoing a redesign in 2009, the aesthetic has been consistently strong. We agree with Waller's assertion that "The magazine's blend of practical information with dare-to-dream inspiration has clearly struck a chord... as Inside Out remains the highest-selling premium-end interiors title in Australia."  

Runner-up: ELLE, UK
Little wonder that ELLE rounded out the year by acquiring two British Society of Magazine Editors awards: one including best Art Direction. As noted on the ELLE blog, art director Marissa Bourke and team have received no less than six awards since 2008. "It is a rare thing for a magazine to excel in both editorial and design so we feel really proud of ourselves", said editor Lorraine Candy. "We set out to prove we were innovative and predictive, and we want to surprise readers every month with our new look covers and a new approach. It's wonderful to pick up an award for taking risks and being brave with content."

Cover of the Year (open season): Cuisine, September issue 

It jumped right off the stands and into the satchel! Heralding the arrival of the 'spring lamb special' (apologies to vegetarians/vegans/Mary), food stylist Fiona Smith and photographer Aaron McLean fashioned a 'McLean' piece of lamb into a butterfly based on the issue's spinach and cheese stuffed lamb rack recipe. The result is creative and captivating. 

Runner-up: Donna Hay, October/November issue
"The season of Spring seems synonymous with the colour yellow - all those honey bees, all those buttery blossoms - and Donna Hay Magazine’s spring issue, resplendent in daffodil hues with a dreamy, honeycomb cover is enough to entice even the wariest home cook and evoke memories of sunny spring picnics and nanna’s buttermilk biscuits. It’s arrestingly beautiful - a visual feast." - Lucy Brook

Okay, so we had food on the brain. But didn't everyone?

Body Image Story of the Year: Secrets of the flesh by Sophie Dahl for US Vogue June 2010

Eloquent, honest and enlightening, Dahl got to the gist of the issue over three full pages, using her personal experience and insider knowledge of the fashion industry to flesh the piece out, while calling into action all the literary devices she uses in her books.

A Vogue reader put it best when she wrote, "I feel it may have been a mistake for VOGUE to publish Sophie Dahl's "Secrets of the Flesh". In doing so, your magazine has set the bar for future articles about food and diet impossibly high. The depth with which Dahl writes about her personal experiences (as a voluptuous model surrounded by calorie-obsessed mothers, a chronically ill waif, and finally a food writer) is unique for someone with her background. Dahl's description of her ultimate appreciation for food as the fuel of life and source of memory is eloquent and touching. Her writing is as balanced and flavorful as the good she describes and–like a perfect meal–left me happy and satisfied."

Runner ups: Is body love missing the point? Nicole Elphick for CLEO; Body blows to self-esteem S.E. Smith for Sunday Life

Blog of the Year:
Well, durr. Mia Freedman's influence was felt far and wide during the electoral year and her opinions continue to resonate with the many, many women who follow her words on Twitter, on the website and in her Sunday Life column. With weekly appearances on the Today show, chairing the Body Image Advisory Board also on her crammed schedule and a new book launch on the agenda, she's a modern media phenomenon; an even greater feat in the Land of the Tall Poppy than in the States.

Runner-up: Frockwriter; Musings of an Inappropriate Woman
Patty Huntington can sniff a fashion scoop a mile off; she regularly breaks news on her respected blog. While freelance writer and PhD candidate Rachel Hills articulates her feminist viewpoints on matters of sex, pop culture and life with aplomb.

See also:
The GWAS 2010 Glossy Yearbook
The Best Glossy Covers 2010
GWAS Glossy Yearbook (+ GWAS Glossy Awards) 2008
Best Glossy Covers 2009
Best (& Worst) Glossy Covers 2010

Girl With a Satchel


Julie said...

I really love this post and roundup Erica - thank you so much. There's some great mag's and stories in there.

Anonymous said...

Based on your reviews, I have tried reading Frankie but really can't get into it. I fear it is just not the magazine for me. Can I say that I think Ben N has done a great job with The Monthly. Great to see a young editor doing good things.

diettype said...

The Taliban is a small group in Afghanistan. America has to win the hearts and minds of the the Afghan people to oust the Taliban. Because the majority of Afgjans and also other muslim countries favor equal rights.

Patty Huntington said...

hey thanks erica for the very kind mention.