When we started this site in early 2009, it was with the hope that some things could be different. It is hard to remember back to those dark days, when anything more than 400 words was considered “longform.” But the Internet of that era was a very different place, one where cheap traffic and quick hits threatened to crowd out anything else that required even momentary reflection. (Little did we all know what other horrors would later evolve, but never mind that.)
With considerably more conviction than evidence, we started a place that prized engagement over eyeballs, community over crowd, contemplation over manufactured outrage. And then we went to work willy-nilly, and hoped there were enough people out there who felt the same way.
It turns out there were. As we enter our fifth year, we find ourselves part of an organization that has expanded from two guys typing in winter coats in an unheated room on St. Mark’s Place (RIP Cat the cat) to a flourishing collection of Internet publications which expand on our original mission while remaining true to our core convictions—and remaining entirely independently owned and self-supporting. We have an office, and it has both heat and air conditioning. We have a publisher. We have an associate publisher. We’ve got a new head of technology. And while we are an intentionally lean company—certainly by the standards of this era, in which venture capital has rediscovered “the content business”!—we are now in a position to do much more than we might have dreamed, back when we came out with a tiny site whose viability was roundly questioned by the Internet moguls of that age. Now, to embrace the opportunities your support has afforded us, while still remaining mindful of our founding principles, it is almost impossible for its founders to personally maintain this site.
So we are closing down The Awl, effective immediately.
Kidding! No. Instead, The Awl has grown up, and is therefore in search of an editor-in-chief. We will accept applications through Friday, June 21.
We’re putting this out there publicly for a couple of reasons: we think it’ll draw in candidates that we don’t know or wouldn’t identify ourselves and we think doing this in public is more in keeping with who we are than, like, employing a headhunter.
What are we looking for?
Applicants need to be seriously entrepreneurial in nature and welcoming of risk. The editor-in-chief will need to be able to execute long-term dream-schemes while responding to the horribly immediate. The job combines the thrill of executing a larger vision with the tyranny of managing a constantly overflowing inbox.
This role has a large amount of autonomy, and therefore applicants need to have the attention to detail of a great managing editor, the confidence of an editor-in-chief and the moral compass of a columnist. Most importantly, we are primarily a horizontal and non-hierarchical organization, with an extremely strict no-assholes policy. Behavior is as much prized as talent; genuineness is as valuable as genius.
There are a number of ways to envision the job. It’s not always possible to make a strong manager into an editor, or the other way around. One model is an extremely strong editor who knows how to hire writers and manage freelancers. Another is a strong manager who has great ideas and who knows how to hire exceptional editors. A third would be someone who has primarily been a writer who is also capable of supervising editors or managers. There are surely other models. You may even have one in mind that we haven’t considered.
Finally, candidates need to be based in or around New York City.
Despite all that, you won’t be going it alone: The position reports to us, and will also involve much interaction with the publisher and the head of technology. Oh, and the site comes with two long-standing Awl writers: us.
If you have an interest in the position, please drop Alex Balk and Choire Sicha a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Discretion is assured.
We would like to know about your experience. We’d also like you to tell us what you believe works and what doesn’t here at The Awl—and how would you change that. There are no other requirements, and we encourage candidates of diverse or unusual backgrounds. We anticipate a fairly robust response, but you can be confident that all correspondence will be considered and that there’s no need to check back to make sure we’ve received your reply; we have been assured that all our email systems are working fine. In any event, please do your best to let us know why we’d want to work with you, and how you’d help this thing we’ve built evolve. You’ve seen our Awl; tell us about yours. We look forward to hearing from you.