My publisher, Bernie, asked me to write about our company’s recent successes. In his words, “it’s a little tacky” if he writes about it. That’s because Bernie himself earned us top honors at the annual Florida Magazine Association awards ceremony this past weekend in Orlando. Yep, the man who I continually poke fun of, the man who pronounces the word “water” like “wroa-ter,” the writer himself won us a Charlie Award for his January 2010 portrait on boxing promoter Don King.
For those who don’t know, the FMA award is like getting a regional Oscar Award. Magazines from all over Florida are judged against each other. Beyond that, there’s amazing seminars and continuing education programs to better equipped us aging journalists.
I attended the Charlie Award ceremony in Bernie’s place (admittedly, the only reasons Bernie leaves town is if its name ends in “McCormick,” “Notre Dame” or “La Salle”). Happily, I accepted this award on Bernie’s behalf. There, the announcers noted Bernie’s Don King piece “was a terrific, well-captured portrait” of the extravagant promoter himself.
Photo of Don King by David Martin-Warr
And the best part of it all? Unbeknownst to anyone other than Bernie, his wife Peggy and me, the last line of the Don King story never made it to print. For whatever reason, Bernie’s final line — the best line in the entire story, I contest — was missing from the final document we sent to the printer. Even with that subtraction, we got off the hook pretty easily as the story wrapped itself up nicely.
More happily, I accepted three other awards for our entire magazine company that same ceremony. For nearly three years now, I’ve been working with a fantastic young photojournalist named Edward Linsmier. He helped nab us two more awards with his portrait of underwater photographer Chris Leidy and his brilliant black-and-white shots of Haiti after its devastating earthquake.
Portrait of underwater photographer Chris Leidy by Edward Linsmier
Like a proud mother, I’m even happier to announce our fourth and final award, Best Department. Stuart Magazine earned an amazing honor for its front-of-the-book section, Power of 10. A lot of work goes into this monthly department page, with all the credit going toward our associate editor and photographer.
As for Bernie, I know him well enough to see he’s outwardly trying to remain nonchalant about these accolades. “I don’t put too much [thought] into these awards,” Bernie shrugs. But deep down, I know he’s pretty proud of himself. Undoubtedly he’s already told his entire family, even those in Ireland, about the four-day-old awards.
But I know where he’s coming from. As creative people, where everything is subjective, it’s always gratifying to hear some validation that you’re doing a good job. And because it’s all subjective, we have to take each kind award with a grain of salt. A different panel of judges, a different result.
But we’re going to savor this moment for a bit. After all the profanity-laced reader feedback we’ve received this past season, soaking in this moment sounds good to me. As the Irish say, mazel tov.