Episode 392: David Haskell
Hey it's Max before we get started I want to quickly about squarespace. Did you know that you can turn your great idea into a reality? Squarespace got time right now. What else do you do in squarespace? It easier than ever to launch passion project. Whether you're showcasing your work or selling products of any kind with beautiful templates and the ability to customize just about anything you can easily make a beautiful website all by yourself and if you do get stuck you won't but if you do squarespace has twenty four seven winning customer support right there to help head squarespace dot com slash. Long Form Get free trial. And when you're ready to launch us the offer good long-form. We'll get ten percent off your first purchase of a website or domain. Thanks squarespace. Here's the show. Hello welcome to the PODCAST. I'm excellence game here. Co-hosts Evan ratliff. Aaron Lamour Gentlemen. Hello Hey hey guys got for us. Nine out of ten nine out of ten Aaron's at nine out of ten this week coming straight with it I gotTa Tell Ya Grand Scheme of things. That's disturbingly good. I'd like you like you don't WanNa ask any questions about it but I'm doing great. Okay well you know. That's that's weird but I guess I'll take it. Who's on the show this week this week on the show? David Haskell whose the editor in Chief of New York magazine you guys probably remember a couple of years ago I had Atta Moss the show who was then the editor of New York magazine sort of legendary editor New York magazine and last year. Adam step down handed the reins to David. New York magazine is the only place that David has ever worked and And he took it over and it has been A pretty intense time I would say in his thirteen months. Running the place of a New York magazine got acquired by. Vox We talked about that. And what it's like to be part of this larger place. He just had to furlough a bunch of employees in the midst of Cova did and we talked about that and we also talked about dislike. Would it is like to be an editor in chief in twenty twenty what that means like what that just actually is and what it means going forward and how you manage a team of people when everyone's working remotely it was It was good compensation. He's very is very thoughtful. About all of it. A little behind the scenes factoid for longtime podcast listeners. Love those David Haskell. Also on the side owns a whisky distillery here in New York City. I got married at that distillery officiated by Max Linski. Thanks for that Max. Hey Hey I'm still a man of the cloth if anyone wants to officiate. Their weddings hear people say the illuminated. I genuinely mean that. I really liked officiating. That wedding officiated anyone's wedding. If you're GONNA fish reading just call me fire described Max's character efficient at a wedding would be one of the ways I would describe it. I gave it toasted your wedding to all I'm here for all your wedding. Needs your experience. You're you're you're not gonNA let people down. You're not gonNA come unprepared. No I'm going to try hard and I'm GonNa come with some heart. You're in this vigor of of hosting. I understand where you're going with this. I'm also I Internet Ordain Minister. I forget what my title is but it means a lot to me. You guys have one more thing to To plug I gotTA plug. He gets onto plug some employees lunch. New podcast on Monday. It's called a wind of change. It's a hosted by Patrick Radin Keith. Multiple Times long-form podcast guest friend of the but friend of the POD and Patrick. A bunch of people have Pineapple Street and crooked and spotify and all these places have been working for a year on this podcast Which has a very simple question. It's heart which is do you guys know the song wind of change by the hair metal band? The Scorpions Patrick to rumor from someone within the CIA that that song was written by the so the whole show is trying to figure out whether wind of change this eighties. Power Ballad about freedom and democracy was actually written not by German hair metal band but by the CIA. Show if you are as obsessed with something as Patrick. Radin KIEF has been with this song. Then you should start a newsletter about it. There are newsletters about everything out now. Some of them shockingly highly subscribed in my opinion. A lot of the best ones are through mail chimp. They are sponsor we use their services tons of other businesses. Do check them out. Thanks to them Malcolm now. Here's Max with David Haskell. David thanks for Thanks for doing the PODCAST. Thanks for having me on this podcast. Where where are you in the world right now? I am in shelter island right now about two hours from the city and you know honestly feeling. Kinda guilty about it had to be the editor of New York magazine. Not Being in the city tried it for a while. My husband and I live in one bedroom apartment both zooming all day long and it just felt like a problem that we should fix these winter. Like a very appropriately named place. Yeah Yeah I mean. It's literally island and you have to take a ferry to get on here and everyone's very careful about everything so it feels especially isolated in good ways and bad ways how. How has it been for you to be Editing magazine about life in New York City will not currently living a life in New York City. I mean the main thing is it's been kind of thrilling like it's such a such an intense story that especially over the last six weeks. You're really telling both a local story and National International Story and work is bizarre and personally. I just find myself missing the social creative aspect of the job and and it's amazing how much you can get done on zoom and then you also sometimes feel like you're you're missing some of the joy of magazine making. Do you feel like the magazine is worse. Because you guys are not in the same place does that translate to quality or is it just like more fun to make it in office with people? Well it's more fun. You know. I think the magazine has been great these last couple months read but and I think it's. It's it's a lot harder and I hope that effort doesn't translate to the reader. I hope the reader is just impressed by the ambition and drawn to the stories that we're telling you know like I hope that plays you know we're all in this scramble and very aware reminds me a lot of the hurricane. Sandy issue. That New York magazine put together in a remote office scrambling over the course of three and a half days landed on an iconic cover an ICONIC ISSUE. That was the first issue felt like and now. We're just months into this analogy in. Its feeling not quite the same. But they're still in there the sense that we will never forget this moment and everybody's working so hard to meet it with New York Magazine's point of view and Sir Mission. It's interesting you say that about everyone working so hard. What's it like being the boss right now? I spend a Lotta time recently. I've been spending a Lotta time worried about. Burn out for the whole crew. Like New York magazine. Is this very tight? Knit Group of editors writers designers. We are able to just sort of into it. I think how hard to push each other and it is that kind of generous pressure. I would say regularly and I am so focused on proving to ourselves that we can meet this moment with the amount of ambition and journalistic excellence that we can muster like that is really what I'm focusing on and then I just worry. Sometimes that it's only part of the job and there's a lot of talking to my colleagues who are incredibly fatigued incredibly nervous and to be suddenly of translating the State of the company. The company's strategy in future to a New York magazine team is something that I'm trying to do as best candidates really. It's a tricky part of the job. What's the balance of your time between those two things like? How much time is managing people in this in so many ways sort of like completely impossible moment and how much of your time is trying to make the magazine as great as it can be. There's a way that those things are obviously related to but then there's another part of it which is like in some way those things can be intention right. How do you think about managing those two? They're more often in sync than intention. Honestly that part of it when I think about the pie chart at my day there's There's a part of it that I feel like suddenly I'm media EXAC and I've never been that before and that's a really interesting kind of like feel like I'm auditing a Grad School class of some sort in very you just kind of privileged position to be part of the VOX media team plotting out our strategy going into this very uncertain time. Then though there's and that's maybe a third of my time but then the other two-thirds is with the New York Mag Staff and the core thing that I'm focused on is making sure we are all putting enough rigor to the question of how this current issue of the magazine. That we're putting together is going to be. We're putting on a play every two weeks and you're going to rehearsals to dress. Rehearsals Tech Rehearsals. It's just like you know an event and then just as much of my brain is doing the quote unquote doing the digital journalism. But what I mean by that mostly is working with the top editors on the sites. You know says you know. New York magazine is both the Bi weekly print magazine and digitally we published the Cut Vulture. Intelligensia STRATEGIST IN GRUB street. And so when I'm working with editors who were primarily digital editors. It's a lot about sort of coaching and thinking through coverage questions in a sort of strategy way. But it's a different kind of relationship than with the magazine and I'm so grateful to have the kind of practice or mantra kind of a a like the making of the magazine can be very procedural. It's rigid you read things million times. You have to write a poem on the cover every two weeks and you just spend hours thinking about the correct five words There's something very pure about that work that I find grounding in I think helps the sort of overall journalistic enterprise plot its future. I have a lot of thoughts after that that that was a really log answer and I don't know it sounds like your job is very frenetic but it also sounds like where you gravitate toward is the like biweekly. You know event your staging and I wonder just hearing you talk about like the deck on the cover and stuff like that feel nostalgic to you that kind of magazine making no. It just feels so it. Actually truly it feels so urgent. Help me understand why it feels coated. Well you know it's like it's an interesting thing to be editing a print magazine especially doing so at a magazine that I think is pretty successfully. Become a digital magazine has sixty seven million people reading it last month and a few hundred thousand print copies so obviously our readership is digital and we are making a digital magazine but the fact of the print magazine is kind of the key to the whole thing to have a cover for instance to start there. That is our shot twice a month to get your attention and to say something that lasts or provokes. That's like a an opportunity that I am so grateful for you know like I was looking at the last few covers that we did. And the one that we did most recently just had four words on the cover rich Cronin Pork Rona. And then it had a deck actually who lives who dies who thrives and to me that of course a lot of people were talking about inequality and the virus. But we were able to. I think to hijack that conversation and say here is a considered emphatic. Curious somewhat mischievous but with real ballast consideration of this question that to me is like what a print magazine can do and I would say that. It's IT punctuates. The churn like there is so much content available for you to read. I don't know if you are dying for more on the antibodies in the serum the scientists. Or you're overwhelmed by that material or or go back and forth over the course of a day but to have it all accessible on your phone all the time as one interesting article after another is is modern media. And there's some great work going on everywhere about night in that world what I think is urging about the magazine is that it just forces a break and a theatrics to the journalism and it's a disappointment if it doesn't quite land but we are always trying to do is use this toolbox to make something that like breaks the churn that makes sense to me. That like they can just breakthrough like it happens. It happens a tremendous with you. Guys it happens with the New Yorker. Sometimes you know we're like the covers themselves go viral. You know you know absolutely but also a certain kind of magazine not all magazines but a certain kind of magazine developed over decades as system and infrastructure and economy and a culture of long form a way of making an ambitious piece of writing that is more carefully wrought than an average newspaper peace and is more current than a book. And we since I'd been in the job. I guess thirteen months now have taken that system that we just now call the enterprise system of storytelling and applied across all of the sites and not just the print magazine. If we didn't have the print magazine know I'm sure we rolled smart and have taste. New is near magazine taste in. I'm sure we would sort of approximate a plan for publishing features but for us at least to know that the project features editing is a magazine project. Even if it's applied to an article that we know will isn't scheduled to be in the print. Magazine has really kind of upped. Our Game I. That's come through. I mean it feels to me like over say perhaps less thirteen months there have been many more features across the five sites than there were previously even as the magazine has shifted. Its production schedule. That was when it was announced that it was going to go from weekly to Bi weekly. My big fear was like D- does that mean we get like a half the features now. Yeah that was our fear to right and it feels like actually there's like some multiple of the features and there was in. My head is kind of tiered system for the features across sites like this is going to be one of the magazine ones or is this like not one of the magazines. If it's one of the magazines one's like all set up in my chair. Make sure I read it. You know and And now I feel like it's diffused in this way that it's like caroline cal I think wasn't in the magazine tract which has got to be like one of the more memorable pieces under your tenure for sure. It took about seven months of editing and a dozen drafts that was edited as carefully as a print magazine stories with a really good example. Talking About Yeah. I mean I don't want to spend a bunch of times sort of parsing leg. Why did something in magazine? Why does something knock on the magazine but the thing that I am interested in is what role you think that kind of journalism has for the place overall and like the sort of doubling down of that ambition digitally? I think is really interesting and maybe could help me understand how that fits from a audience perspective and from a business perspective leg. Most people are not investing in that stuff at the moment. Yeah you know like structurally New York magazine launched a digital subscription a couple years ago and we are as of about six months part of Cox Media and we are the only real part of ox media that has a business model built around consumer revenue. What that means is that it's on us and on me to make a magazine that when I say magazine and I mean digital and print all the time but to make a magazine that is worth paying for and to make good on the bet that not every magazine can be saved. The magazine industry overall probably be saved by the digital subscription business. But a few of them have shot. I do think New York magazine is one of them. It's given me more room to make the case internally to myself feel good about an investment in features because you know that it's one of the things that makes people subscribed another area that I've invested pretty significantly in is photography. And that's also kind of a hard thing to justify especially was in the sort of the most crass years of the sort of facebook shared digital media ecosystem. It's nice to talk about that in the past tense. Well it is is. It's a shift like scale to us is one aspect of the goal but there are one goal but equality relationship with a good number of of readers. Who like you so much? They'RE GONNA pay for it. That's another goal and it's really good for journalism. It's really good for at least the magazine. I WANNA MAKE I. Hey it's Max I'm GONNA put David on hold for a second because we got some sponsors and I want to tell you about them but the first thing I wanna tell you is that it's time it's time to turn your dream into a reality and I recommend you do a squarespace. Squarespace makes it easier than ever to let your passion project whether you're looking for I duNno start a new business showcase. Your work published content sell products. Whatever you WANNA do with an internet website square spaces the tool for you. Got Beautiful templates designed by world class designers. 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That's literati dot com slash. Long long-form thanks to them for sponsoring the show and let's get back to David. How many slots do you think there are available for magazines? That can make it on that model. It's easier for me to think how many slots are available in my own. How many passwords am I gonNa Remember and subscriptions do? I really feel comfortable if I've got the Times I've got netflix. I've got spotify and I've got a handful of magazines. How many of them. I don't know that's a pretty brutal sort of personal economics that were up against to make the case that we deserve to be in that little. Bundle the flip side of that question is just how many magazines can find people to do that. And you know I think some magazines cost hundred times as much as other magazines and so I think we'll just get to a place where you know. My hope is that there's a thriving indie magazine world. There's a thriving middle circulation magazine world and is probably only a few that can survive in the million or more subscribers world. That's part of what I was asking about is. Just one of my fears is that you know. Basically what's happened with the Times is what's going to happen with magazines. Which is like it's really working for the times and it's really not working almost anywhere else. In daily newspapers bins worked for the post to read. There's like a couple of places where it's working which are the ones you would assume if it was going to work for anyone would work for but it's really hard to scale that model down and you see in local journalism everywhere right and so. I just wonder whether the same thing's basically true for magazines that like you know the New Yorker in New York magazine and a handful of others will be able to make that shift but there are many armony slots. Yeah I I worry about that too like I worry about that as a just a kind of civic minded journalist but I also worry about that in my position can I make it into that little club can we you know. And you're magazines always had this interesting tension of being serious not being spectacularly good some decades in kind of not some other decades being essential and being kind of Tawdry and I love the dynamic. But it's really it's a lot of pressure. I feel a lot of pressure to ride that wave correctly. It's a particular push-and-pull and the fun of it but also it's it's a vulnerable place to be. How do you think you're doing? I think that I think I'm doing okay. You know I was so scared about this job. When it was offered to me I inherited the position from at a Moss who's just superb editor and mentor and friend. None of us working for Adam really could imagine the Post Adam world and I just was so nervous. This time. Last year I started may April I and I I do think that now I feel like I know what the job is and you know one thing that I appreciate. It's kind of perverse. But one gift in a way has been the relentless news cycle. There's just been so much that we've covered over the last thirteen months. Jeffrey Epstein Impeachment Know. Obviously now this. The world's completely change it makes the learn on the job aspect of the job. Go faster it's crazy. Run of news to have to navigate but I assume in some ways that does kind of make it easier is like A. There's a lot to deal with all of that doesn't leave a lot of time for like Worrying about it just kind of have to do the thing right. Yeah you just kind of have to do it and you know the thing that I'm always worried about getting wrong or not. Getting right is I guess the word is innovation. There's a like a certain kind of successful. You look back in a month and think. Oh we've done a bunch of stuff that's worthwhile and well executed where keeps me off is. Is it specifically us? Did we do something unusual here? Did we push in a direction? That was a little scary but was differentiating. You know. I don't know whether we've done that enough Feel like there's an or they're like his it that thing or is it something else. What's the other possibility of what it could be? Well I guess what I'm saying is that you can do something. That's pretty good. But you might also have read it on the Atlantic or you can do something. That's kind of great. But also kind of total misfire but it was definitely New York magazine and the thing that I just wanted. Keep pushing ourselves and myself and I'm not sure we're doing it enough right now. Is You know the ladder is just taking those kind of weird risks. You know because like the thing about New York is that we're not taking risks in our coverage than what are we doing? We've got no sort of commercial pressure to put a safe cover out. You know make great cover like there's no one calling me up saying to tone down. This covered like none of that exists. It's just a dislike little basically like artists collective. That's trying to respond to the news. Twenty four hours a day Make sure that we're always doing with confidence. I guess that's another another way of talking about it. Is that freeing or terrifying or both. It's both but it it really is. I mean it's freeing it's just that like your standards are so high so it's always like you know. Did we get this last cover right? I think we did. It was really scary. How late in the game? It came together. We decided to take a look at college and in particular the excruciating dilemma. That a lot of students have right now whether or not to defer they have until the end of May many of them to put their deposit down for fall semester or not and a lot of them are at home taking some zoom classes and otherwise just feeling completely robbed of their college experience and aren't sure what to do and from the college administration point of view. It's sort of an existential crisis. So anyway that was. That's the subject and we just went through so many different tones of how to express the undercover and it came together really may and I was just having trouble sleeping. You know just thinking about what if we bomb this. Cover like what. Oh God wouldn't that just be a Downer so that that's the terrifying thing. Is that like a every two week experience for you. Do you feel that way about all of them? Yeah I feel that way about all of them like you're not gonNA get a perfect success rate you. There's a range you look back covers. Have Different feelings about them. But the process of making every one is incredibly emotional for me at least and that emotional piece of that brand new since you got the job or did that manifest and other ways before you had the job like were you that way about whatever your chief responsibility was before you were you were the editor in chief. Yes was sort of that way. I mean the main thing that I did for my whole run at New York magazine even though also doing other things was editing features and I would say twelve fifteen times a year. I would be walking home after they finally closing like the the images that came to mind right now is Dan Lease Worked WITH NOSE ON HERE BEFORE. Dan wrote every piece that Dan wrote was an emotional experience and he wrote a devastating piece about a fire in Stamford and I walked out of the office. And I was just I just wanted it to be everything could be in how we got. There was so you know like were crying sweating. We're like staring down sentences and I just remember the release of walking out of the office and knowing that it had shipped and then I saw firetruck passing lower Manhattan Something shifted in my Oregon's kind of you know anyway. So like editing features is always that intense tonight. You know at the same time. I was doing that jumping into a million other areas of New York magazine. Always and so one thing. I've really appreciated his. Just being kind of spastic. Having a attention span. That is well on the one hand like you can burrow into. Were doc but then you get to get up in talk to a bunch of people about number of problems in fun ideas in it. Switches between a fun time and serious time. How come you never wrote at never felt the urge? I mean basically. That's true I thought for be in architecture critic and when I was in graduate school I was studying architecture to do that in doing some writing but didn't really trust my takes and thought that there was something missing between just being fluent in the world of architecture and actually having something to say So I stopped and then in the world magazines to me. It's just a entirely different personality. I get that there are people out there. That are writer. Editors I worked with some of them. It's kind of amazing to watch. I don't see it in myself. I mean it's interesting that like you're basically like yeah. I was trying to do this when I was in Grad School. I just wasn't good enough like no one's good enough in Grad school and that the whole idea. Oh yeah no I just meant like I felt like a kind of disorientation like it felt not me You know I've tried to write diaries. And that doesn't work and I don't know I really just the interesting thing to me about magazine making is that you're kind of gathering at Dinner Party or curing a museum show or putting on a play or casting a movie like you get to bring voices together. Sharpen them pull things out of them. It feels expressive. But you're not the main attraction and that was really the thing that you always wanted to do like he started a magazine in Grad School. And like idea was the thing the gone. Yeah that idea is the thing the magazine. I thought it was called topic and it was really just like a quarterly. That took one fairly broad topic at a time and its whole conceit was in who was invited to write about their lives and we found very unusual lives and mostly non professional writers and help them right their pieces. Put together this kind of collection of memoirs basically. So walk me through how you got from like starting a magazine in Cambridge to end up in New York magazine where you've now been for a long time and maybe we're not at a lot of places before that like. I feel like people move around. Yeah that's that's my whole career Maximal magazine and then I started working at New York magazine. One move yeah. I when I was editing. This magazine topic at first it was in graduate school in England and then we brought it to New York City and there were about at some point about fifteen twenty people who are kind of on the masthead. Who are editing it with us. We all had other jobs. It didn't pay any of us but it was a community you know. Many of them are still magazine. Editors one of them Stella Bugti I work with on a daily basis and have an incredible long relationship with because originally because of topic but anyway it was also an opportunity for me to meet various editors. Say Hey look at this magazine. Tell me what you think of it. One of them was Adama's I when he was at the Time magazine and then we stayed in touch when he went to New York and it took a couple of years for it to make sense but I did a sort of editing special with him and then realized Oh God I need to have a boss. I needed have regular experience. Making magazines making my own magazine is too infrequent to raise money each time for another issue and exciting about being in the big leagues and and learning how to do this so Adam hired me in a sort of hybrid role features editing and doing culture editing and then it both evolved didn't over the years and the magazine evolved didn't over the years. I mean a few months after I was hired. The economy crashed Bruce Wasserstein who had owned the magazine died. His children became more involved in eventually Pam. Wasserstein came in CEO. And eventually she was the one who chose me to be the next editor in chief and then she was the one over the last year. Who found us a new home at? Vox where she's now the president so anyway. I've had this long relationship with her. The magazine went from weekly to Bi weekly said that felt at the time. Borderline crisis borderline existential. Could New York magazine Exist? It didn't come out every week. Would that permanently destroy the thing that we are with a real worry for us my impression from the outside and this is not very informed but my impression from the outside is that there's been this sort of like these two realities around New York magazine for a long time and one of them was? The magazine was great and it seems like that everything was going really well and also there was dislike slate crisis all the time around the business and like they're rumors about sales and or just kind of like real uncertainty. Now Yeah you know. I think that that's a function of the twentieth century. And being a small family business was scary at every iteration of the digital transformation. I don't think that if Adam and Pam if they hadn't committed as strongly as they did to finding a digital expression in being relevant digital magazine. There's no way we would still be here. You know and yet there's been a lot of continuity and stability many of the people that show up zoom grid on Monday morning have been at the magazine for more than ten years. Fifteen years more than twenty five years. That's a pretty rare thing to have in media in two thousand twenty of lot of institutional memory and sort of interventional memory and I mean. I think it's just so useful to be able to point just like on Friday. We were talking about. There was some article that we're looking to assign and we were talking about different ways in and I was just able to sort of shorthand referred to a piece that we published in two thousand and nine that most of the people on the call remember even were around for and like. Oh yeah right that sort of combination of writer an angle is what we're talking about here did you Did you always want that job? Is that the goal. I was like? Yeah no that it seemed to me. It was just a recipe for disaster. Take over from Adam to take over a magazine that is sort of running at peak form and always sort of punching above its weight and as you say like anything could happen any minute. I really appreciated Adams career arc where he was able to leave the times for a magazine. That was kind of in a bad spot but he saw how to renovate it. It was kind of a clunky building. But he wasn't. There wasn't like a lot of juice at New York magazine when he took over. It was really the fault of the owners at the time it had just been stripped for parts and was running being run very cynically. And so what Adam had was bruce who had bought the magazine and said I think this could be something. I'm really proud of. And he went shopping for the best editor. He told the best editor. Spend some money to make this great again and Adam looked at the first decade of New York magazine of you know Tom Wolfe in Milton. Glaser in Clay Felker and Gloria Steinem and said that is the DNA of this thing that is incredibly relevant to right now. Let me basically try to bring that back so I would say Adams. Two big accomplishments were to do that. And then to say really early on two thousand four two thousand five hundred thousand six doesn't seven to say wait a minute. Were were particularly well suited for digital for the Internet. The way the Internet sounds is actually kind of the way. New York magazine sounds or sort of at sound. That new organizing invented in nineteen sixty eight sixty nine seventy like. There's something there's an opportunity there that we really needed embrace. Even though it's scary so he took over New York magazine when it was lagging but it was about to have a bunch of money thrown at it and you took over New York magazine when it was soaring and financially a little up in the air. Right what a recipe for disaster in that so. That wasn't a thing that you were sitting. There hoping was going to happen for a long time. No I just told myself I don't want that and so I started to in the last couple years. Think also what do I like? What is the next step here and You Know I. I love a certain kind of magazine but I don't WanNa work in magazines. If it can't be that certain thing so I was thinking like you know. Maybe maybe the world magazine for me is really starting to have a a kind of broader conversation with myself about what the next stage would be go back and become an architecture critic but also Adam. Adam surprised everybody by by deciding not to do it anymore. It wasn't in anyone's head that suddenly this job would be open certainly wasn't in my head. I spent a long time talking to him about doing the job. I don't know maybe eighteen months before you announce it or something like that. It was really fun to talk to him about it and he was just so connected to the sort of like pleasures of magazine making you now as real like real religion for him do you feel. Does it feel the same way to you yet really does I? Don't know why maybe because I absorbed it from him for almost fifteen years. I I guess the thing that I feel like that learned from Adam and share with Adam and and I think is well suited for this particular magazine is a belief that there is something really fun about the world if you are able to the tweak your curiosity to be really specific about your curiosity and like explorer human weirdness like that's like underlying so much of the journalism even if it's about rich Cronin Pork Rona. It's like the piece that we assigned on Steve. Mnuchin was like look at the sky. What a what a human. So there's a lot of pleasure in magazine making but that's kind of. It's not really the magazine or it's not. It's not just the building blocks of of story construction. It's a kind of way of seeing the world where you're just like open to your own curiosity. And you're kind of addicted to other people's curiosity he's got this little sensory thing where you notice that people are noticing things or curious about things and and then you like send in the troops and you're like we are going to either answer this question or play in the sandbox and just be as literary as possible about the Canadian about the front page of the times and everything between That's that's what's really fun about the job always with the not fun part well for me. Personally I get nervous thinking about how we might want to change how we do things because I feel like I know how we do things. I know how this car runs and I it really enjoy driving down this road for a minute or like revved up or. I'm going to play with his car. But the thing that's Always been true. Your magazine like it's always changing and I guess could be answering this question in the other direction saying this is one of the most exciting things in but it is also really scary to think about the weight of reputation and the importance of consistency of voice. And I don't know just the dangers of becoming flattened out That's the thing that I worry about. And it's not fun to wrestle with because it's it's just as scary demon out there so to what extent when you think about that about the car and I guess there's another question here which is like I don't know exactly how the car is transformed. Now that vox zones it. Maybe it's just like the thing that holds the license plate in just says like vox on it now or something boxy dealership but how much of it is about like those big strategic moves and then how much of it is about identifying the people both behind the scenes but also in particular the writers who will be the next group of those kind of period defining voices which. I feel like the magazine. If you track that like when was at great and what was it not so great one of the big sort of indicators. Can you just can you name who the writers were you know and I feel like these big boldface names right now and one thing? I wonder a lot about is like. How do you find the next generation of those people? I mean this is like it's totally fun. Like this is actually the the high stakes pleasure. The job is thinking like all right. Who's are stable? Like how do you? How do you bring our collective voice into another chapter another year another month? Even it's always been New York magazine's strong suit or maybe just the cards we're dealt that we developed talent. We're not really often in a position to go out and poach big names. We try to do it sometimes. It works sometimes but It's not a recipe. It can't be a recipe for me or else you're just not gonna be able to get enough so really. What you're doing is cultivating is like having long term relationships and long-term conversations with writers including the youngest or newest writers on staff and thinking like where do you. WanNa go with this. And when's the right time to take a bigger assignment or yet you're getting pretty good at those eighteen hundred word. Hangouts with the actor who you like. What if you tried one with someone? You've really didn't like what if you did one of these. That was entirely done through dialogue or told backwards. You know back to front that kind of conversation. I feel like you gotta be engaged in as editor in chief with your existing staff because there's so much talent in the building and there's so much ambition and forward momentum that everybody feels. You obviously can't make everybody a superstar but you have to be seeing their potential as clearly as possible. What the like Raw Ingredients in a reiger that you're looking for to get in the door so before you start. Feel like a hassle shaping process life. What are you looking for when you go try and get someone at the beginning? What are you looking for new young writers what I'm asking earn confidence? I was GONNA say confidence and the I will preface it with an earned confidence. A voice I mean. It's just true like it's a cliche to say especially on this podcast but it's just Our people a pleasure to be around. The pleasure doesn't need to be ha ha funny. It doesn't need to be light. It could be excruciating like it just needs to give me a sensory hit. I need an emotional charge off of your writing. And so you know humor helps. A knowledge of history helps especially especially writers. Were may be in field that maybe it's not as obvious like the ton of culture writers out there in the world writers about film out there in the world. How many have actually seen enough to have built a personal reservoir of wisdom like you can do that and be twenty six. You don't need a Like it needs to be a professor of film studies or something but people have sort of put in the work. I guess what I'm saying. Is that what earn confidence means? Yeah that's the earn apart and then the confidence part is what allows you to find a way into an idea that is that sort of quick the heart. Is that something that you can ascertain like just on the page or is there something that you know? I mean the hiring works or whatever who gets shot or how or when it comes to you but like you know if that twenty six year old happens to get to your office if we're ever back in offices again in the room what what is it that. You're looking forward to that really not matter. Is it all about like what how it feels on page? And whether there's that charge this definitely danger putting too much stock in someone's performance of talents talking to a prospective boss like that is something it can translate sometimes into something else sometimes but you gotta be careful but you know like one thing that is pretty often true is nimble thinking can show up really quickly in a one on one conversation like basically what. I'm doing when I'm meeting. Potential new writers for the first time is just trying to watch their mind. Works doesn't really matter what we're talking about. And I'm like I'm not really asking a Gotcha question but it just sort of like right talk to me keep sort of wondering in that direction than what if I just threw this lob this like weird grapefruit that just landed in your now. You're thinking in the strike. Did that Spook. You and by the way sometimes spooking is like okay. Like very neurotic. People are wonderful writers but what comes from the SPOOK? I'm just sort of just watching watching your mind. Have you found any way? Maybe with the sort of place that magazines or in general that the pool of talent particularly with young people is smaller than it once was like are fewer people who would be good at a whole bunch of things picking magazine writing. No I don't think so especially when you call magazine Writing Internet writing. Also because there's I guess I'm talking about like features. You know like the kind of people who are coming in with they want to be doing is right in the kind of stuff that you were editing. You know the kind of stuff we were talking about. Yeah like there's some skills that are hard to get these days reporting is a big one. I think there's a lot of people with a lot of talent but actually not much of a grounding in how you get information out of out of other people and I think a lot of the Classic magazine. Writers of the years of over the decades worked in newspapers. I and learn how that works and you know just harder to do right now. The other thing that I've found Harder is to find people who are fluent features editors people who know how to like construct long-form because that's a relationship between a writer and an editor and writer doesn't need to know how to do it really like Sometimes a writer who knows how to do it so well is. There's a risk in that you're just sort of just paint by numbers making a piece in conversely there's so much incredible journalism especially that your magazines published over the decades of very young or green writers writing long form pieces. That happens because you also have a system that knows how to sculpt that peace and that's a hard thing to learn how to do. It's a hard thing to do. And you really. Kinda only learn at a job where that stuff happens and it doesn't happen as much anymore so you when you think about like how would it be just selfishly useful for the ecosystem of magazines to be stronger? That's one area where my head goes spoken like a true editor. I got one more question than go. Which is basically just like you know here. We are in this moment. You're managing this place thirteen months into your tenure over zoom since you got the job. The company's been sold and we're now in what looks to be you know the most significant economic downturn in ninety years. You know there are a handful of prestige magazines in the world. Which means they're are a handful of prestige editor in chief jobs in the world. You're young to have one you know and you have done some furloughs in there. There's been some pretty tough moments for the magazine. Just you know in the last eight weeks and I just. This is a very specific question. I just wonder how it feels for you to be in this job in this moment and I guess we've talked about it a lot and maybe it's connected to the car stuff but I don't know I just I wonder how it feels right now to be your forty. Yeah forty you run a New York magazine. New York magazine is part of Vox. Did those acquisition moments. You know it sounds like that deal was about as good as can be and obviously there's not much you can say but I just a lot of I don't know man there's a lot there's a lot going on in that in that. Stu You know there's so much stuff going I mean there's so many ways to answer that You know I'm so impatient with this Virus situation. I just wanted to be over. I want to be back in the office with the team. Making everything that we want such sort of like drive and it's been difficult to sit in front of my computer and just realize that we can't do it all right now and that. Actually the scramble is the best you can hope for and your particular situation literally the best you could hope for like I does not nagazine in the world. I'd rather be working at. There's truly not a corporate home in the world I'd rather be and I'm so grateful for the merger for a lot of good things and also precisely for the downside. Risk mitigation reason of like be a very different story for you guys right now right. Yeah Yeah you know We are in a well. Run Modern Media Company. That wants us there in. That is just a gift. What I feel so much pressure to make good on it and should approve the value of the merger From the perspective of our box colleagues. Say Yes we say. Thank God for you in this Canadian age but I hope you also appreciate us because if we do our jobs right. We are a salve in a year of just horrific advertising right so like I wanna be there for the larger company and just demonstrate the quote unquote editorial excellence. Hand be a business model. I really do think it can and you know and I think very long-term about this place and there's nothing that feels creaky or old fashioned about the opportunity here for me. It's like New York magazine. Should be able to tell the story of the world on and on and on and on and on. It's got a really durable recipe for how to do that in a way that audiences respond to so you know there was at some point like ten months ago. Something made me think about three years ahead. I forget what it was and I was like. Oh Yeah I'm not just scrambling to figure out some answer. Some burning question about a month from now you know fingers crossed knock on wood. We've got time here. You know like you can't ever take that for granted but it's I think fair to indulge a long-term perspective more than fair. I think it's probably part of the job for me. Least to be certified like plotting and dreaming years out in sort of fashioning the enterprise the journalistic enterprise magazine towards that Long-term Vision as gingerly as you can without it. Breaking gotTA put gas in the car. Everything boils down to a car metaphor. You know I liked the car metaphor because I don't want to rebuild the car like that's the thing that people have asked me over the months like when are you going to do a redesign in like what's your new thing GonNa be. Basically and part of me is like just you wait. A new things will happen. I'm not doubting that they will but I also don't. That's nuts. Don't be looking for that like I. I'm not looking to rebuild the car. I just wanted to drive it well and drive it in interesting places and you know it's like we have a great staff so like let's how do we use the staff. Will if the main reason that you are apprehensive about taking the job and the main reason you didn't realize that you wanted it until it was offered was about taking over for atom. Like how important is it to you now? That people know who's driving or that it's you driving. It's not that important to me. I don't think people looked at magazines to have editors in chief that way anymore and I definitely think there's a danger for anyone in in a position like this who creates such a public persona for themselves that it might divorce you from the work itself. So Yeah A. It's a pleasure to be here. I mean the thing that I would say to be honest like I'm sitting here in my quarantine. You're sitting in your quarantine. I'm thinking what can I do? And we have the best subscription month in our history last month and there's so much momentum to do more work to get people to subscribe and I'm thinking about unachieved. Maybe I should just like open up that instagram account of two million people and do something violent I don't know what it should be. Honestly just toying with the idea of somewhat more public presence because I think actually to some extent. It's important to do that in my position. Yeah I mean I think if your job is to drive. Subscriptions and have people connect with the place like on some level. Some people got to connect with you. Yeah well that's why I'm doing this on a Saturday night. Yeah you called me so you know the first step towards a higher public profile is just letting me ask you about your feelings for an hour. It's very good actually to talk out my feelings David. Thanks for doing this bent. Thanks for having me. Thanks listening to long him. I'm asking my co-host earn. Lebron Evan ratliff editors Pifer and our intern is Burrito Clementi. Thanks to them. Thanks to our sponsors mail chimp. Pit Writers Literati squarespace. Thanks to all you guys making the show possible. And thanks very much David Haskell for taking some time for For being candid about which is like the the editor in chief of a big magazine in twenty twenty during a quarantine. Well see next week in the meantime. If you're looking for something to listen to go check. I wanted to change the new podcast by Patrick. Riding kief Pineapple Street studios. We did it with crooked media and spotify. It's fun it'll take your. We'll take your mind off stuffer second. We'll see you next week.