Madison Magazine nabs nine Milwaukee Press Club awards, two national nods

Finalist entries appear in four writing and five design award categories, including best overall design of a magazine.
Milwaukee Press Club

Finalists for the Milwaukee Press Club’s 91st Annual Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism Contest were announced mid-March, and Madison Magazine was among the finalists, receiving nine award designations.

Milwaukee Press Club is the oldest continuously operating press club in North America. Hundreds of submissions in professional and collegiate categories from across the state were considered when selecting this year’s finalists. Madison Magazine was selected for four writing awards and five design awards, including best overall design of a magazine.

In addition to the Milwaukee Press Club awards, Madison Magazine received two finalist designations from the national City and Regional Magazine Association. Madison Magazine was selected in the Feature Story category (circulation less than 60,000) for Marc Eisen’s “The Future of Madison’s ‘Epiconomy.'” Madison Magazine was also selected in the General Excellence 1 category in circulation less than 30,000. CRMA award winners will be announced at a livestreamed event in May.

The Milwaukee Press Club award winners for gold, silver and bronze will be announced in May during the virtual Gridiron Awards Dinner.

Take a look at Madison Magazine’s Milwaukee Press Club winners below:

Writing – Best Long Soft Feature Story
The Future of Madison’s “Epiconomy” by Marc Eisen
Marc Eisen, a seasoned Madison-area writer and editor, pulls back the curtain on Judith Faulkner’s fantastical fortress, Epic Systems Corp in the October 2020 cover story of Madison Magazine. The electronic health record giant is historically media-shy, which makes a deep-dive challenging. But Eisen weaves together personal observation, extensive research, thoughts from key community leaders and Epic expats resulting in a transparent, engaging and forward-looking 5,000-word story that captures a reader’s attention from start to finish. Read the piece here.

The Ghosts of Lost Live Performances by Michael Muckian and Henry Michaels

the stage at overture with the set of wicked on it

Photo by Patrick Stutz

Photo by Patrick Stutz

We received special permission from the Overture Center for the Arts to capture an image of the “ghost light” shining bright in front of the darkened set of the traveling Broadway show “Wicked,” which has remained on the Overture Hall stage since mid-March. Writer Michael Muckian begins his in-depth piece in the September 2020 issue by explaining the symbolism of the ghost light as both evidence of a performing arts industry gone dark and the hope and creativity that remains. Muckian’s comprehensive story provides updates from the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Madison Opera, local musicians and small venues, Overture Center, Forward Theater Co., UW–Madison’s Chazen Museum of Art, Li Chiao-Ping Dance, Children’s Theater of Madison, MMoCA and Kanopy Dance Co. Read the piece here.

Writing – Best Single Editorial, Statement of Editorial Position or Opinion
“The Black Hands That Built America” by Kaleem Caire
In our August issue, which was dedicated to telling Black stories, monthly columnist Neil Heinen offered his column space to a Black voice. He asked Kaleem Caire, founder and CEO of One City Schools, if he would be willing to write a piece. In this guest column, Caire tells readers his personal story, including details of his relatives in the not-so-distant past who were born enslaved. In his piece, Caire wonders what his grandma Hettie and her contemporaries would think of today’s disparities, especially in education. Read Caire’s piece here.

Writing – Best Explanatory Stories or Series
Where Our Garbage Goes by Maggie Ginsberg + Tips for Low-Waste Living by Maija Inveiss
Members of our editorial team and art department, a freelance photographer and a freelance writer all shared the same curiosities: Where does our garbage go? How does it get there? And how can we stop producing so much waste? The garbage and recycling industry is complicated, and the general public’s lack of knowledge contributes greatly to the global waste crisis. We set out to publish a story that helps explain the process and what was discovered in the reporting process was a dire situation at the Dane County Landfill. There are only six to eight years left on the local site where 700 tons of commercial and residential waste are deposited daily. In this eye-opening piece, Maggie Ginsberg narrows in on the “why,” “how” and “what’s next?” of the Dane County garbage industry in a way that hasn’t been done recently in local media. The goal was to offer understanding of the broader concept, but we also paired the cover story with an actionable list of 20 ways to live a more waste-free life. Read the May cover story “Where our Garbage Goes” here. Read the May feature “Tips for Low-Waste Living” here.

“A Tale of Epic Proportions” was a finalist in three design categories
-Visual Journalism – Best Illustration or Cartoon by Tommy Washbush
-Magazine Design – Best Single Story or Feature Design by Tim Burton
-Magazine Design – Best Single Cover Design

Epic cover in October 2020 Madison MagazineThe October 2020 cover story about Epic Systems Corp. — a medical software company with a Verona, Wisconsin, headquarters that looks like it jumped from the pages of a storybook — begged for an illustration with matching whimsy. Working with talented local illustrator Tommy Washbush, creative director Tim Burton helped mold the vision for an incorporated headline and a scene that shares a striking likeness to the campus. In this “Where’s Waldo?”-inspired work, you get lost in the details that stay true to Epic’s decor, including a carousel formerly housed at Ella’s Deli, a comma-shaped building, a treehouse structure and a Humpty Dumpty statue. And if you look closely, you might find the tech giant’s founder. The illustration’s concept and execution has a clever connection to the cover story’s focus — “Our town has hooked its star to the software giant’s success. But what happens when founder Judith Faulkner leaves?” Read the story here.



Magazine Design – Best Single Cover Design
Black Lives Matter” by Tim Burton and Rebecca Radix
Ayomi Obuseh stands with her fist in the air on the August cover of Madison MagazineAyomi Obuseh, a 19-year-old Madisonian, raises her arm to the skies with a balled fist. You’ll recognize the symbol of Black power, long used in the course of American civil rights history and in the Black Lives Matter movement as a statement against racism and police brutality. One simple gesture seems to capture the sentiments you could have heard last summer as people took to Madison’s streets chanting: “Silence is violence,” “My skin color is not a crime,” “Am I next?” “Enough is enough,” “Listen,” “No justice, no peace,” “Say their names,” “I can’t breathe” and “Black lives matter.” It didn’t make sense to include any other cover lines other than these phrases. Obuseh is one of five young, Black emerging leaders we profiled in the August issue, which celebrates Black stories. The look on Obuseh’s face in the portrait taken by Rebecca Radix captures fatigue, yet strength. Peacefulness, but power. It’s the kind of cover that will stand out in the archive room years from now as part of history. Read the August 2020 cover story here.

Magazine Design – Best Overall Design
Madison Magazine’s art department consisting of Tim Burton, Emily Culp, Sarah Frautschi and Carol Shufro were selected for their design of Madison Magazine in 2020. Madison Magazine submitted the January, August and September issues for review. The January 2020 issue launched the first full redesign of Madison Magazine in six years, as well as a special flip cover and section paying tribute to that other “MAD Magazine,” which had recently retired its regular print edition. This January issue, as well as the August and September issues, are representative of a new era of design for Madison Magazine that showcases stunning portraits, impactful illustrations, smart font and layout choices and feature photographs that highlight of-the-moment art direction. Creative director Tim Burton and his art department aren’t afraid to take risks or go the extra mile — like turning an eight-page spread upside down (January), omitting all other coverlines for impact and working with several new Black photographers (August) or getting special permission to photograph the “Wicked” set at Overture Center for the Arts to tie to a feature story’s lede (September).