Magazine article Newsweek

Doing a DoubleTake

Magazine article Newsweek

Doing a DoubleTake

Article excerpt

One look at this award-winning, deficit-running magazine and you're hooked. Better look quick.

ANYBODY WHO'S SEEN DOUBLETAKE knows it's like no other magazine: exquisite photographs, stately page designs, typefaces that don't scream their heads off--and a $10 price tag. It doesn't even smell like other magazines. The high-quality paper and ink give it that sweet, nutty chemical bouquet you remember from better days. Just how out-of-step is DoubleTake with the way you're supposed to do a magazine? OK: its first submission rolled in before the magazine was even dreamed up. A woman who'd read Robert Coles's Pulitzer Prize winning "Children of Crisis' books sent the child psychiatrist/activist/author a story by her 7-year-old grandniece, about the death of the child's mother. "She said she wished there was a magazine that would publish it," Coles recalls. "I thought, 'Why isn't there?'"

Last week the quarterly magazine Coles founded in 1995 with photographer Alex Harris, his colleague at Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence (under 100,000 circulation). The American Society of Magazine Editors cited DoubleTake's mission "to document ordinary life" with "extraordinary" photos and distinguished writing--one recent issue had Joyce Carol Oates, Bill McKibben. Jayne Ann Phillips, Rick Bass and Reynolds Price, as well as unknowns with something to say. DoubleTake's notion of documentation extends to fiction and poetry, but Coles insists that it combine "the esthetic and the moral," and that it be "about something that matters, about how people live. …

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