Monday, March 15, 2010

Somerville's Boston Review is a finalist for National Magazine Awards

Well-I was having breakfast at Bloc 11 in Union Square in Somerville, trying to dry off from another deluge when Will Fertman, PR man of The Boston Review dropped by my table to chat. He told me The Boston Review, located in the Paris of New England, has been named a finalist for the National Magazine Awards. I can remember 18 yrs. ago working as an editorial asst. with their slush pile at the Review's down-at-the-heels headquarters in Chinatown--Boston. Congrats!

"The prison's burning again"

That's how Tom Barry's in-depth investigation into private border prisons begins. It's a long article in a small magazine, far outside the New York-D.C. media axis. But since appearing in Boston Review's November issue, it's been reprinted online and featured on episodes of Fresh Air and Dan Rather Reports, pushing its audience into the millions. Now it's earned BR a spot as finalist for a prestigious National Magazine Award, and it's demonstrating how to make magazines work in the age of micro-blogs and mega-media.

As commercial outlets continue to cut back on long-form journalism, Boston Review's role as a nonprofit springboard is growing. "Texas" is typical of BR's approach-- giving an expert correspondent the editorial support and column inches (7,000 words) they need to build their case, pushing the story into mainstream coverage.

Says BR co-editor Deb Chasman, "Other media had reported fragments of the story, but Tom understood how policy affected the entire community, from immigrants to corporate boards to border-town politicians."

That commitment to depth put Boston Review on the NMA finalist list, alongside The New Yorker and National Geographic. The intellectual approach has been profitable for the magazine too, with circulation rising 15% on paper and 50% online since 2008. With the future uncertain for many print publications, BR has created a niche for itself, feeding both the twitchy constellation blogs and the content-hungry giants of the mainstream media the stories they can't find elsewhere.

The National Magazine Award winners will be announced on April 22. For more information, visit:

To read Tom Barry's "A Death in Texas", visit:

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