The New York Magazine editor is ready for his next chapter – Folio:
Editor David Haskell describes New York magazine and its related verticals as a “fixed on newness” organization, and the bi-weekly title has certainly seen plenty of “newness” in its 51st year.
In January: a new paywall, covering the flagship site as well as its digital versions, The cup, food street, Spy, The strategist and Vulture. Later in January: a new union of about 180 editors, voluntarily recognized by management (the process of negotiating its first contract is underway). In April: a new editor, Haskell, replacing a famous predecessor, Adam Moss, who transformed the magazine and amassed countless awards during his 15 years at the helm.
And most recently, in September: a new owner, Vox Media, the 14-year-old collective of online brands like SB Nation and The edge, alarming employees, many of whom first learned of the sale via a New York Times article published late Tuesday evening, prompting the magazine’s editorial syndicate to issue a statement describing the lack of notice as “deeply disturbing” and “disrespectful”.
“I think that’s totally understandable — it’s miserable to be out of the loop, especially if you’re a journalist,” Haskell said. Folio:. “I hope in the days and weeks to come that frustration will dissipate, but again, I understand that and I’m sorry that Tuesday night was so upsetting.”
Although management memos have assured that New Yorkthe various brands of will remain distinct and as its print magazine will continue, a significant concern among staff is the preservation of New Yorkeditorial voice and culture, a concern Haskell says he shares, but remains “fundamentally optimistic about our success. It’s just something we all have to work on. I’m ready for that,” adding that “My top priority is to protect the special culture we have here and the extraordinary editorial product we create. »
Picking up on a magazine that interests many, both inside and outside the media sphere, the story of the Vox merger has managed to permeate the evening news cycle even as the president of the House was opening an impeachment inquiry against the President of the United States. …at a time of tremendous change comes enormous pressure. But Haskell, who spent several years as associate editor under Moss, says he enjoyed taking on the leadership role more than he bargained for.
“It’s been so much more fun than I imagined,” he says. “I inherited something that I love and am proud to have been a part of for 12 years. One of the gifts of the job was being able to inherit something that you don’t feel like you got. needing to save or imprint your footprint for selfish reasons.
To ease the transition, Haskell says, reliance was placed on common feedback: a core group of editors helping each other refine each other’s ideas and develop stories “that, from the start, seem incredibly exciting to read”, which sometimes requires suggesting another writer, someone who might be more risky but will bring a new set of talents.
“Adam developed a way of running this place where there was kind of a voice of God aspect to the decision-making. It wasn’t because Adam was imperious; he was the opposite of that. It was just his nature to be in this position for a long time with so much more experience than most staff.
Haskell says he tried to be more blunt and sometimes tough on editors, but generally didn’t have to be, and that ceding some authority over go-ahead decisions helped a number of talented publishers to spread their wings.
One departure Haskell made in its first six months was revamping the reporting department to better enable digital publication of the kinds of deeply researched and sometimes bombastic long-form stories for which the print magazine has become known.
Haskell describes it as prioritizing ambition, giving the digital newsroom more freedom to produce deeper dives with a more collaborative editorial process – more or less mirroring the existing workflow on the print side. – and allowing the printed product to serve as a showcase for the best of the work magazine, rather than the engine that drives it.
“As our magazine’s digital expression continues to evolve, it must generate these features itself and not rely solely on the print magazine to create them,” he says.
Haskell highlights the 6,000-word first-person account of social media influencer Caroline Calloway, published on The cup on September 10, as proof that the new process is working.
“[That story] Came to the To cut publishers,” he continues. “We had a system that made it a manuscript meeting where we decided if it was worth investing our time because it was going to be a lot of work. It was a long piece that required very thoughtful editing and solid fact-checking. We were able to make the decision to greenlight this without thinking whether it should be in the magazine.
The story never ended up in print, but exploded online and remains on The cuphomepage more than two weeks later. Haskell says he wasn’t surprised by the quality of the story and recognized early on that the strength of the storytelling gave it the same attention-grabbing potential as other recent coups. : an April report on an alleged sex cult at Sarah Lawrence College, a wild July story about Harvard law professor Bruce Hay, and writer E. Jean Carroll’s first-person account of a sexual assault alleged by Donald Trump in 1996.
“There are stories that you know will find an audience, and it’s a duty to edit those stories with enough professionalism and ambition to allow them to fulfill their potential,” he says.
As a result, the Newsroom publishes many more long-form stories that would normally only appear in the magazine, whose bi-weekly circulation is around 400,000, compared to the 40-50 million readers its websites attract each month. .
Haskell says he’s not afraid to take anything away from the print magazine by prioritizing online corporate reporting, because the print magazine benefits his digital verticals as much as they benefit.
“One of the things that’s so great about it is that the magazine forces more intense topography in the journalism that we publish,” he says. “The fact that we’re asked for a cover twice a month means we’re bound to come up with ideas that are exciting enough to be cover-worthy. The print magazine is not an afterthought.
In general, the business model of magazines has changed. Advertising is often insufficient to support expensive and time-consuming journalism, and like the print magazine, the institution of a paywall has meant that New YorkOnline verticals need to look for journalism that people are willing to pay for, rather than content that will generate the maximum number of impressions. Haskell says this change has been more liberating than constraining.
“I saw the pressures of the not-so-distant past, driven by social media, the Facebook algorithm, when it was much harder to defend the type of journalism that is expensive. It’s an easier project to defend now. , so in that sense it’s exciting.
Haskell’s main investment since taking office has been in reviews – the addition of two new film critics, Bilge Ebiri and Alison Willmore, in September, and the hiring of book reviewer Molly Young in August – on the grounds that the strength of the magazine’s journalistic operation is underpinned by acerbic and provocative criticism, something Haskell enjoyed during his tenure with the magazine, particularly while writing his 50th anniversary book l ‘last year.
Asked what he looks for in a new writer, Haskell lists: “Intelligence, curiosity, wit, a strong point of view on the world, but at the same time an openness to be surprised, shocked, confronted with new ways of thinking at all times. moment.”
“That duality is incredibly important in a writer,” he continues. “As an organization, we are obsessed with novelty. We are somehow addicted to new ideas, new expressions of culture, new shifts in political winds and people of interest. I think curiosity is really important, along with having the kind of discernment and seriousness that can outweigh enthusiasm.