Read Caption

National Geographic's October 2013 issue: The magazine won the National Magazine Award for best tablet edition.


National Geographic Wins National Magazine Awards

"Ellie" winners stand out in a crowded field of journalism.

National Geographic magazine won National Magazine Awards for best tablet edition and best multimedia feature on Thursday.

The multimedia award was for Robert Draper's story "The Last Chase," about the final days of scientist and tornado researcher Tim Samaras, who was killed by a twister on May 31, 2013, in El Reno, Oklahoma.

Chris Johns, the outgoing editor in chief of National Geographic, said at the award ceremony that it was a difficult win because Samaras was "a dedicated researcher who spent his life pursuing science and lost his life in the storm." Johns dedicated the award to Samaras and his family. Samaras's son, Paul Samaras, and fellow tornado researcher, Carl Young, were also killed in the storm.

New York magazine won the award for general excellence in the general interest category. Bon Appétit won for best photography and Time won for public interest.

The annual National Magazine Awards are considered the premier awards for magazine journalism and are administered by the American Society of Magazine Editors in association with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Winners were announced at a dinner in New York.

Animation of a tornado chase.

Animation: The Last Chase

View Images

Animation: The Last Chase

"I am thrilled we were recognized for the third year in a row for best tablet magazine," said Johns. "Our visual storytelling is second to none, and it is powerfully showcased in our digital edition."

"This award represents the future of our storytelling, and it is a testament to the leadership of Bill Marr and the talents of Lisa Lytton, Bethany Powell, and the whole team that we brought it home again," he said, referencing leaders at the magazine, including Marr, its creative director.

The National Magazine Awards were launched in 1966, with Look magazine receiving the first honor. Awards for digital journalism were introduced in 1997.

The awards are also called "Ellies," after the Alexander Calder-designed "Elephant" statue that's presented to each winner.

This year, more than 250 publications submitted 1,586 entries. Sixty-six of those publications were nominated as finalists in 24 categories. The judging was performed by 333 magazine editors, art directors, photography editors, and journalism educators.

Twenty-­six magazines received multiple nominations, led by New York with nine. National Geographic, the New Yorker, and Wired each had six. Bon Appétit had five nominations, and GQ and Harper's Magazine both had four.

National Geographic was a finalist for general excellence, photography, website, multimedia, and tablet magazine. Jonathan Franzen's story "Last Song for Migrating Birds," which featured photographs by David Guttenfelder and tracked threats to European songbirds, was nominated in the public interest category.

Johns has led National Geographic to 21 National Magazine Awards and was elevated this week to chief content officer at the National Geographic Society. Susan Goldberg has been appointed to editor in chief of the magazine, reporting to Johns.

Follow Brian Clark Howard on Twitter and Google+.