The 20 Best Magazines of 2010

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10. Mojo

To be honest, it was hard to choose which UK-based music magazine to include on this list, with NME, Uncut, Q and, especially, The Word battling it out. But we chose Mojo for its ability to squeeze new stories out of old music, while treating up-coming acts as potential future legends. Oh, and for having Tom Waits guest edit an issue this year. With extensive album reviews (and an unmatched reissues section), no other magazine covers music more comprehensively, on either side of the pond or the hill. And samplers—like its most recent “Dylan’s Scene” CD chronicling the sound of Greenwich Village—are a nice bonus. Josh Jackson


9. The Believer

An arm of the McSweeney’s publishing empire, The Believer represents several platonic ideals of the magazine industry: The writing is smart; the book feels great in your hands; the subjects share a particular sensibility but maintain some element of surprise. It’s a miracle that, with such a lean staff and so little advertising, the editors can do what they do. Nick Marino


8. The Atlantic

The Atlantic underwent a major redesign last decade, but it could be printed on paper towels in ComicSans for all we care, as long as it continues to offer some of the most well-reasoned analysis in all of print media. Surely the magazine’s latest batch of writers have been doing their legendary forebears—Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes—proud. Josh Jackson


7. Good

One of the youngest magazines on this list was started with the simple idea that some people actually do give a damn. Mixing investigative journalism with energetic infographics, Good uncovers what’s wrong and celebrates those trying to make it right. But rather than just being benevolent, its design, originality and writing make it actually good. Josh Jackson


6. New Yorker

We love Talk of the Town, Alex Ross and Sasha-Frere Jones. But more than that we love knowing that whatever feature we read, whether it’s about Obama or the freakin’ Dog Whisperer, we’re not going to want to put it down. Josh Jackson


5. Oxford American

As we toil away down here in Decatur, Georgia, it’s nice to be reminded that all great magazines don’t come from New York City. Marc Smirnoff’s Oxford American has been through its share of publishing turmoil, but its uniquely Southern voice hasn’t wavered once. And once a year it becomes the best music magazine in the world with bylines in its latest issue from Greil Marcus, Tom Franklin, Amanda Petrusich, Carl Wilson, Jack Pendarvis, John Jeremiah Sullivan—along with Paste’s Rachael Maddux and Austin L. Ray. Josh Jackson


4. Esquire

When I think of Esquire, I think of Tom Chiarella’s poignant and straight-shooting instructions on how to deliver a eulogy, which made me chuckle despite the lump in my throat (“Don’t sing, unless they ask you to. Even then, consider not singing”). I think of Chris Jones’ devastating—and National Magazine Award-winning—essay “The Things That Carried Him,” which relates the journey of a dead soldier’s body from Iraq back to his hometown in Indiana. I think of Tom Junod’s towering, exhaustive profiles of Angelina Jolie and Steve Jobs and Arnold Schwarzenegger and so many others. Esquire is the reason I love magazines. I dare you to comb through an entire issue and find a single word between those covers that doesn’t leave you reeling with delight or nodding vigorously at the gobsmacking truth sparking like a Texas thunder storm just behind it. Jason Killingsworth


3. Wired

Everything about Wired seems designed to surprise and delight, from its innovative covers to its voracious curiosity about everything under and beyond the sun. More than just a way to keep its readers current with the latest gadget or technological advance, Wired writers are constantly questioning conventional wisdom, offering new perspectives and debunking misconceptions about all that we hold dear. Josh Jackson


2. The Economist

The Economist is an intelligent and opinionated weekly examining news, politics, business, science and even the arts. They don’t just chronicle events; they apply their neo-liberal philosophy (pro- free markets, globalization, open borders, and government spending on stimulus, health and education) in articles (mostly without byline) that take a definite stance in the interest of progress. You can count on them for lively and comprehensive editorial spanning the globe. It’s no wonder the magazine has remained as one of the few bright stars in the publishing industry, with the trifecta of editorial vitality, growing readership and healthy advertising. Tim Regan-Porter


1. New York

As magazine editors, we collectively bow down to the feet of New York’s Adam Moss and the font of creativity he has instilled in this (so much more than a) city mag since taking over in 2004. From new music critic Nitsuh Ebebe’s insights to David Edelstein’s movie reviews to the Approval Matrix, there’s plenty for even non-New Yorkers to love. And they do it every seven days. Even with the expansion of the brilliant pop-culture blog Vulture, New York’s printed words have only gotten sharper. Josh Jackson