Best in the West

Best in the West

By Steven Boyd Saum

Indeed, we’ve just garnered some top publishing awards in Los Angeles and New York. But wait—there’s more!

File this story under tooting your own horn. And under some cool news we thought you’d like to hear.

In one of the top honors in the publishing industry, your Santa Clara Magazine earned a MAGGIE Award for the best design of any consumer magazine with a circulation of more than 75,000 readers. And, at the annual MAGGIE awards ceremony, hosted by the Western Publishing Association (WPA), Santa Clara Magazine also took home top honors for best magazine in its class.

The awards were presented by the WPA at the MAGGIE banquet on May 6 in Los Angeles. The awards recognize editorial and design excellence in print and digital publishing—celebrating work deemed “The Best in the West.” For 65 years, the nonprofit WPA has sought to commend top work in consumer and trade publishing.

MAGGIE winners are announced in a dramatic Oscars-style ceremony, with each award category preceded by a recap of finalists on the big screen in the front of the ballroom where the ceremony is held. The presenter opens the envelope and announces: “And the MAGGIE goes to …”

And the MAGGIE goes to … Santa Clara! Photo of SCM editor courtesy Sprocket Media.

For the top design award, the image on the screen was the cover of the Fall 2015 edition of Santa Clara Magazine: that striking portrait of Pope Francis, photographed by Stephen Crowley. The pope stands in the Oval Office of the White House with his back to the camera, looking out on the Washington Monument and gazing out on America. Alongside the pope—and wrapped around the back cover of the magazine—is President Barack Obama.


As longtime readers of this magazine know, in 2015 we rolled out a redesign that was the biggest transformation the magazine has undergone since its founding 35 years ago. We worked with creative genius DJ Stout and his team in Pentagram Austin to reimagine the architecture in a way that’s bold and dramatic and speaks to who we are, and that gives us room to tell the stories we want to tell. We’d like to think it turned out pretty well.

Other recent MAGGIE winners for editorial and design excellence have included Sunset, Mother Jones, Macworld, Pacific Standard, and Variety. It is a rarity for university magazines to be considered as finalists in the awards—let alone take home top honors. A pair is even better.

Along with the award for design, Santa Clara Magazine was presented the MAGGIE award for the best magazine overall published by an association or nonprofit organization. We’ll note that this award isn’t a first for Santa Clara; the magazine won top honors in that category two years ago.

And in 2015, Santa Clara Magazine took home MAGGIE honors for the best series of illustrations. Those were created by internationally known artist Brian Stauffer, whose work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time. The illustrations accompanied an essay by poet and critic Dana Gioia, former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, on “The Catholic Writer Today.”


In the design world, one of the big dogs in the awards pack is the Society of Publication Designers (SPD). They singled out Santa Clara Magazine for honors this spring as well: with an award of merit for the feature “Silicon Valley Story.” The essay, which makes the case for reimagining the history of Silicon Valley, was the cover for the inaugural redesigned issue in Summer 2015. The essay was written by Michael S. Malone ’75, MBA ’77 with illustrations by Brian Stauffer.

Along with receiving the award, Santa Clara Magazine will be included in the 51st SPD Design Annual, published later this year. For professional publication designers around the world, the SPD Annual is an invaluable resource for tracking the best and most innovative designs in magazines.

Publications competing for SPD awards include powerhouses such as Wired, Esquire, and New York magazine.


The digital edition of Santa Clara Magazine—which you’re perusing right now—earned honors of its own this spring. The western region of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recognized the digital magazine with a silver medal for best digital magazine in the West.

If you go back a couple years, the digital magazine was a very different animal indeed. Clay Hamilton, associate editor for the digital mag, deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the transformation—building the digital edition into a place that gives readers a reason to come, stay, and return.

The good folks at CASE also honored the print edition with a bronze medal for best magazine overall.


I arrived at Santa Clara a decade ago to take the helm as editor of Santa Clara Magazine. It’s been a pretty good first decade, and we’ve sought to bring a greater richness and complexity, moxie and verve to the mag. On the page, there’s a new sense of scale, along with texture and warmth and visual pow.

With that in mind, here are a couple things you might not know.

The magazine is supported in part with gifts from readers. Friends interested in donating to the magazine are always welcome. You can even make a gift of a couple bucks right now.

Likewise, for those just discovering us in the digital realm and interested in print: We’re happy to send a complimentary copy of the print mag. Just ask at And if you have a friend you’d like to share the magazine with—in print or digitally—let us know. After all, while the awards are nice, we shape this magazine for you.

Steven Boyd Saum is the editor of Santa Clara Magazine. 

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  • Best in the West
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