Creative awards aren’t limited to that entertainment tetrad known as the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). Advertising professionals dream of Clios; the off-Broadway theater world, Obies. And in the world of magazines and longform journalism, there’s the National Magazine Awards, commonly known as the Ellies.

While the winners of the NMAs are announced in an April ceremony each year, the American Society of Magazine Editors announced this year’s finalists yesterday — and honestly, around here this is the day we wait for. Not only does the larger slate represent more of the stories we read and loved last year, but they tend to encompass a wider breadth of publications, from city magazines (5280) to smaller literary outlets (Catapult) to brand-new upstarts (Pipe Wrench). This year brought an even nicer surprise: The Atavist, our sister publication, was named a finalist in two categories (Profile Writing and Video)!

We’ve rounded up all the relevant categories below, including those for fiction, photography, and illustration, all of whom announced their winners as well as their finalists. Consider it a reminder of some of last year’s best reads … and a guide to some you may have missed. Once you’ve combed through Longreads‘ own Best of 2021 package, of course.

Public Interest

• The Atlantic: Ed Yong, “Delta Is Driving a Wedge Through Missouri”; “How the Pandemic Ends”; “We’re Already Barreling Toward the Next Pandemic”
• Bloomberg Green: Zachary R. Mider, “The Methane Hunters”; Zachary R. Mider and Rachel Adams-Heard, “An Empire of Dying Wells”; Aaron Clark and Matt Campbell, “Turkmenistan’s Dirty Secret”
• BuzzFeed News: Heidi Blake and Katie J.M. Baker, “Beyond Britney: Abuse, Exploitation, and Death Inside America’s Guardianship Industry”; “They Both Fought to Break Free From Guardianship. Only One Escaped”; “‘My Human Rights Are Being Violated’: Fighting A Family Conservatorship”
• New York Times Magazine: Azmat Khan, “Hidden Files Bare Military Failures in Deadly Strikes”; “The Human Toll of America’s Air Wars”
• New Yorker: Sarah Stillman, “Storm Chasers”
• ProPublica: Lylla Younes, Ava Kofman, Al Shaw and Lisa Song, “Poison in the Air”; Al Shaw and Lylla Younes, “The Most Detailed Map of Cancer-Causing Industrial Air Pollution in the U.S.”; Max Blau and Lylla Younes, “The Dirty Secret of America’s Clean Dishes”
• Virginia Quarterly Review: Lois Parshley, “Cold War, Hot Mess”

Essays and Criticism

• Audobon: J. Drew Lanham, “What Do We Do About John James Audubon?”
• Bloomberg Businessweek: Esmé E. Deprez, “How I Helped My Dad Die”
• Harper’s: Vivan Gornick, “Put on the Diamonds”
• New York: Angelica Jade Bastién, Them Is Pure Degradation Porn”; The Underground Railroad Is the Cinematic Event of the Year”; Cruella Is the Girl-Bossification of the Madwoman”
• New York Times Magazine: Carina del Valle Schorske, “Bodies on the Line”
• Yale Review: Jeremy Atherton Lin, “The Wrong Daddy”

Profile Writing

• The Atavist: Maddy Crowell, “Invisible Kid”
• Bicycling: Carvell Wallace, “Justin Williams Can See the Future”
• ESPN: Dotun Akintoye, “Is Jake Paul bad for boxing? Next question”
• New York: E. Alex Jung, “Infinite Self”
• New Yorker: Rachel Aviv, “Past Imperfect”
• Pipe Wrench: Shanna B. Tiayon, “If We Can Soar: What Birmingham Roller Pigeons Offer the Men of South Central”
• ProPublica: Lizzie Presser, “The Child Care Industry Was Collapsing. Mrs. Jackie Bet Everything on an Impossible Dream to Save It.”

Feature Writing

• Harper’s: Ann Patchett, “These Precious Days”
• New York: Kerry Howley, “Gina. Rosanne. Guy.”
• New York Times Magazine: Susan Dominus, “‘I Feel Like I’m Just Drowning’”; Imani Perry, “Searching for Gayl Jones”
New Yorker: Rachel Aviv, “The Kentler Experiment”
• ProPublica and Nashville Public Radio: Meribah Knight and Ken Armstrong, “Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge.”
Texas Monthly: Christian Wallace, “The Resurrection of Bass Reeves”


• Harper’s: Caroline Lester, “The Lightning Farm”
The Hollywood Reporter: Tatiana Siegel, “Scott Rudin: ‘Unhinged’”; “Shielding Scott Rudin”
• New York Times Magazine: Matthieu Aikins, “The Collapse”
New Yorker with The Outlaw Ocean Project: Ian Urbina, “The Secretive Prisons That Keep Migrants Out of Europe”
Quanta: Natalie Wolchover, “The Webb Space Telescope Will Rewrite Cosmic History. If It Works”
Texas Observer: Michael Barajas and Sophie Novack, “Locked Up and Left to Die”
Undark: James Dinneen and Alexander Kennedy, “Below Aging U.S. Dams, a Potential Toxic Calamity”

Lifestyle Journalism

• 5280: Lindsay B. King, “The Beginner’s Guide to Winter Camping”
AARP: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “The Games We Play”; as told to Jon Saraceno, “The Barrier Breakers”
Eater: “Filling Up”
Insider: “259 LGBTQ characters in cartoons that bust the myth that kids can’t handle inclusion”
New York: Stella Bugbee, “Thank You, Dr. Zizmor”
New Yorker: Helen Rosner, “How to Cook With Your Microwave”; “The Timeless Fantasy of Stanley Tucci Eating Italian Food”; “How to Get a Table at Carbone”
Texas Highways: Katie Gutierrez, “The Original Cowboys”; Sarah Hepola, “The Evolution of the Texas Cowgirl”; W.K. Stratton, “Fight or Flight”

Service Journalism

• 5280: Lindsay B. King, “Shattered Minds”
AARP: Mike Zimmerman, “The Back-to-Normal Health Plan” (print only)
New York: “Natural Hair, Now” (print only)
Self: “Black Women and Breast Cancer”
Women’s Health: Kristin Canning, “We Need to Change How We Talk About Abortion”


Essence: Lorna Simpson, “Of Earth & Sky” (print only)
• National Geographic: Charlie Hamilton James, “Swam” (print only)
Poetry: Sandro Miller, “From ‘Crowns’” (poems by Patricia Smith)
Stranger’s Guide: Kike Arnal, “El Chocó” (print only); Nicolò Filippo Rosso, “Exodus”; David Estrada Larrañeta, “Reggaeton”
Time: “The Cost”


Emergence: “They Carry Us With Them: The Great Tree Migration”
• Fast Company: “The Most Creative People in Business 2021”
McSweeney’s: McSweeney’s 64: The Audio Issue”
National Geographic: “Solar System in Action”; “Small Wonder” (print only)
New York: “All Work, No Pay”; “Before, During, After January 6”; “Reckoning With a Reckoning”


The Atavist: Three videos from “A Feast For Lost Souls” — “Manqui,” “Juana,” and “Blanca” — directed by Zahara Gómez Lucini
• Epicurious: “How to Serve Every Cheese”
New Yorker: Luke Mogelson, “A Reporter’s Video from Inside the Capitol Siege”
ProPublica with Time, Truly CA, and Univision: Mauricio Rodríguez Pons and Liz Weil, “Unlivable Oasis”
Time: “Milk Factory,” directed by Corinne May Botz; “My Name is Mookie,” directed by Francesca Trianni

Best Fiction

Georgia Review: Nishanth Injam, “Come With Me”; Aryn Kyle, “Copper Queen”; Eloghosa Osunde, “After God, Fear Women” 

Harper’s: Hermione Hoby, “Greensleeves”; Tony Earley, “Place of Safety”; Rebecca Makkai, “Women Corinne Does Not Actually Know”
• McSweeney’s: Kevin Moffett, “Bears Among the Living”; Mikkel Rosengaard, “The Mating Call”; Samanta Schweblin (translated by Megan McDowell), “An Unlucky Man” (print only)
• The New Yorker: Souvankham Thammavongsa, “Good-Looking”; Sterling HolyWhiteMountain, “Featherweight”; hurmat kazmi, “Selection Week”
• Strangers Guide: Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, “A Beginner’s Guide to Estrangement”; Kjell Askildsen (translated by Seán Kinsella), “A Sudden Liberating Thought”; Malerie Willens, “King of the Tyrant Lizards” (print only)

Best News and Entertainment Photograph

The New Yorker: Balazs Gardi, from “The Long Prologue to the Capitol Hill Riot”

1843 Magazine (The Economist): Wolfgang Schwan, from “They stormed the Capitol, then posed for selfies”
• National Geographic: Kris Graves, from “2020: 71 Photographs From an Unforgettable Year”
• The New Yorker: Mark Peterson, from “Knicks Fans Are Together Again, for Better and Worse”
• Time: Ruddy Roye, from “George Floyd’s Family Reacted to the Verdict With an Uncontrollable Cry. That Sound Echoes Through Black America”

Best Service and Lifestyle Photograph

National Geographic: Nichole Sobecki, from “Cheetahs for Sale”

• New York: Joe Lingeman, from “55 Truly Surprising, Strange and Immensely Pleasing Gifts Over $200”
• New York: Rob Frogoso, from “Best Bets: Sweat”

Best Profile Photograph

InStyle: Camila Falquez, from “The First”

• New York: Ashley Peña, from “I Should Have Quit Way Before Tokyo”
• Rolling Stone: Dario Calmese, from “John David Washington Does the Right Thing”
• Time: Wynne Neilly, from “Elliot Page Is Ready for This Moment”
• Vanity Fair: Bruce Gilden, from “Postcards From the Edge”

Best Conceptual Photograph

New York: Bobby Doherty, from “New Yawk Style”

National Geographic: Elliot Ross, from “L.A.’s Tree Canopy Reflects Urban Inequity” (print only)
• New Yorker: Kyoko Hamada, from “Acorn”

Best News and Entertainment Story (Photo)

New York: Daniel Arnold and Daniel Galicia, from “What’s Going On in Washington Square Park?”

National Geographic: Lynsey Addario, from “A War on Itself”
• New Yorker: Piczo, from “Height of Glamour”
• Time: Ruddy Roye, from “George Floyd’s Family Reacted to the Verdict With an Uncontrollable Cry. That Sound Echoes Through Black America”
• Wall Street Journal: Dario Catellani, from “Why Sesame Street Is More Vital Than Ever”

Best Service and Lifestyle Story (Photo)

Southern Living: Antonis Achilleos, from “The Magic of Meringue” (print only)

• New York: Delphine Diallo, from “Natural Hair, Now” (print only)
• Saveur: Paola + Murray, from “Meet Manhattan’s New Guard of Wine Pros”
Stat: Bethany Mollenkof, from “Distanced”
• Time: Nina Riggio, from “A Year in a School Bus”

Best Photo Portfolio

New Yorker: Brendan George Ko, from “Saving the Butterfly Forest”

• Noema: Emily Garthwaite, from “The Last of the Marsh Arabs”
• Texas Monthly: Richard Sharum, from “The Unsheltered”
• Time: Adam Ferguson, from “An American Emergency”
• Virginia Quarterly Review: Dina Litovsky, from “Dark City”

Best Print Illustration

Rolling Stone: Brian Stauffer, from “The Enemy Within”

• Grow by Ginkgo: Debora Cheyenne Cruchon, from “A Feeling for the Organism”
• New York: Pablo Rochat, from “The Lunacy of Text-Based Therapy”
• New Yorker: Javier Jaén, from “My Gentle Region”
• Texas Monthly: Mercedes deBellard, from “Why Selena Still Matters” (print only)

Best Digital Illustration

The Verge: Micha Huigen, from “Verge 10”

• New York: Pedro Nekoi, from “‘I Got Ghosted. Big Time’”
• New Yorker: Debora Cheyenne, from “Medicine’s Wellness Conundrum”
• Noema: Noah Campeau, from “Making Common Sense”
• Politico: Arn0, from “Caitlyn Jenner Wants to Turn Celebrity Into Power. But Why?”

Best Illustrated Story

Catapult: Shing Yin Khor, “I Do Not Want to Write Today: A Comic”

• The Believer: Kathy Macleod, “The Places We Lost”
Kazoo: MariNaomi, “Spirit of the Arts” (print only)
• Marshall Project: Danica Novgorodoff, Kayla Salisbury, Hannah Buckman and Acacio Ortas, “How We Survived COVID-19 in Prison”
• The Verge: Kristen Radtke, “What The Verge Covered in Our First 10,000 Stories”