Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Job Open

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 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.

Photo by "Fly_dragonfly," via Shutterstock.

86 Comments / Post A Comment

Freddie DeBoer (#4,188)

"Applicants need to be seriously entrepreneurial in nature and welcoming of risk."


Freddie, that wasn't very articulate of you, I'm surprised! If you'd like to know more about what we mean, I'd be happy to talk offline.

@Freddie DeBoer : I am admittedly fond of the phrase "the moral compass of a columnist".

Freddie DeBoer (#4,188)

@Choire Sicha I'm just teasing. I know it's a necessary part of looking for staffing of any kind. It's just that you could probably port that to literally any job description ever, you know?

This one's a little different actually, for structural economic and Marxist reasons! (Your wheeeeeelhouse.)

Freddie DeBoer (#4,188)

@Choire Sicha Throw a bucket of money at Edith Z. Make it a kickstarter, I'd throw in.

Murgatroid (#2,904)

@Choire Sicha Stop encouraging him.

Freddie DeBoer (#4,188)

@Murgatroid Ha it takes more than a lack of encouragement, sweetie pie.

Besides if you can't point out that the job listing for a quality boho frou frou NYC cool kid website EIC position has language that could be copy and pasted into one for a day manager at TGIFridays without a raised eyebrow, then something is wrong with this world.

Heh. Well then why don't you tell us more about the fascinating and innovative world of grad student choosing and academic hiring, eh? OH, RIGHT.

Freddie DeBoer (#4,188)

@Choire Sicha I like you. You're seriously entrepreneurial in nature.

TO MY DETRIMENT, I like you too.

Freddie DeBoer (#4,188)

@Choire Sicha Since the post solicited opinions on the Awl, here's what I'm actually saying: I like almost everything about this website and have since the day it started. That's why I am almost never comment. The one little thing I don't like is pretty plain in this post: it's this tension about becoming a rising internet content provider concern. Like, I know that it is difficult on a lot of axes to look and suddenly find that you've grown a real business. I'm not saying that in a shitty or snarky way. I'm just saying that, you know, your two dudes and a cat in a cold apartment days are gone, as you guys acknowledge here. You're certainly allowed to feel a little queasy about that. You're also deserving of your success. I'm just recording some queasiness of my own, because there's a little romance in the old way.

Far better you guys to be making progress in the "content generation" business than some others. Far, far better. I just feel a little sad that you legitimately have to write stuff that sounds like corporatese. But it's better than staying in that cold apartment.

You know?

I find that many men have a problem with reading for comprehension; we actually asked for a private email with feedback from applicants.

It is hilarious that you see this at corporatese. You are reading it EXACTLY the wrong way, and you are also not listening when I tell you that.

Freddie DeBoer (#4,188)

@Choire Sicha Well I've been wrong before.


David Cho (#3)

@Choire Sicha #MEN

jolie (#16)

@Freddie DeBoer I really and truly appreciate your Awl nostalgia (says the lady crying over the Cat videos), but I also think you're reading the JD way wrong. The fact of the matter is that The Awl has grown up, and the fact of this job is a great thing. The description is a good one in that it acknowledges that there is still a lot of risk involved in their business, and that this role isn't going to be a predictable one. It's fair and right for Alex and Choire to state that in the description. But also this role is a serious and grown up one, befitting a serious and grown up company.

Choire, this is super great! One, because you're growing and Alex no longer has to worry about not being able to buy shoes, and two because you two should be unfettered a bit from the business of running the editorial operation so you can write and dream more.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Freddie DeBoer Jesus Freddie, a phrase that isn't even boilerplate makes you sad? It's a "help wanted" ad, these are the words that get strung together. Now I'm the one being hypercritical plus defensive. Damnit.

@Choire Sicha I really like one of you.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

@Freddie DeBoer The AWL has way better Wings and less rubbing alcohol in the bourbon.

Denial (#13,186)

How about spend some money to make the site look like we're in 2013?

@Denial : Is that the 2013 where every site has to have parallax css scrolling with big ol' interstitial images? Thanks, but noooooooooooooo.

We are actually aiming for 2011. (Instead of 2008, which it is currently at.)

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Denial I was wondering who would violate the no-assholes policy first, you win.

@Denial : Also, if the recent addition of amusing alt-texts to images was not enough of a technological revolution for you, WELL THEN.

cherrispryte (#444)

@Denial They got rid of the butterfinger blast ad, what more do you want?

stuffisthings (#1,352)

@whizz_dumb I did find it to be both entrepreneurial and risky, though.

joeclark (#651)

@Denial @Gef the Talking Mongoose Many of us would be satisfied with better code, type, and copy, and rational custom slugs. Readily achievable. Someone on staff would have to be able to tell the difference and would have to want all the above. You have engaged a false dichotomy above.

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

I'd apply, but "manufactured outrage" is my forte–I'm genuine as shit though.

How to Hire A Fucking Editor.

Aatom (#74)

Does this mean we don't get any more existential Balkian angst? Or did he already die of liver failure and you're just running canned posts now?

@Aatom : "Canned posts"? Please. Those are just the product of Choire's copy of "Super Silly Mad Libs 2" and a thesaurus open to the entry for "despair".

dado (#102)

Hire Joe Muto.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

You forgot the No Single Pleated Khakis Dress Code.

You know, Andrew Sullivan now lives in New York… that would be fun.

IBentMyWookie (#133)


jolie (#16)
laurel (#4,035)

@jolie Never has a cat (or, IDK, a Cat) been so disappointed by a can opening.

jolie (#16)

Speaking of the importance of community … is Barea available? (BRING BACK BAREA, CHOIRE.)

katiebakes (#32)

@jolie miss u barea

LondonLee (#922)

You didn't mention who you have to blow to get the job.

libmas (#231)

@LondonLee Whom? Also, it seems like there should be a Bob Loblaw-style joke somewhere in the midst of "job blowjob."

LondonLee (#922)

@libmas Errors like that are why I will never be Awl Editor in Chief.

Bittersweet (#765)

@LondonLee That and the fact that you live in Boston.

janevar (#2,912)

Just never ever get rid of the weather reviews, please! I always come here to find out what I missed in the great outdoors yesterday.

Multiphasic (#411)

I appreciate you asking me, guys, but I've decided to settle down and work at the needle exchange instead.

"All resumes should be submitted in the form of a LWC."

NinetyNine (#98)

The pay is not extraordinary, generally.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

SUPER DISAPPOINTED that no one has made a "My editor! My editor's so smart but I'm &c." comment yet.

libmas (#231)

@IBentMyWookie Or maybe, "Am I the best person for the job of Awl EIC? Sure, why the hell not?"

cherrispryte (#444)

@IBentMyWookie "The way we EIC now"

We're All Gonna Edit

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Clarence Rosario Interview question #1: How would you describe your relationship with The Moon?

Astigmatism (#1,950)

"Knifecrime Office"

@IBentMyWookie : haha i also cant believe that no one has made a "My editor! My editor's so smart but I'm &c." comment, but m older sister made 4260$ hjust last week with free l@ptop and RIP cat *(or, IDK, a Cat) videoes. text me learn howw!

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

@Gef the Talking Mongoose Question #2: Let's say you were to meet Daniel CLS in real life, what ensues?

jolie (#16)

"The Awl's New Editor-In-Chief Is Going To Move To New York City"

saythatscool (#101)

@jolie There is no better callback, than D'Addario callback.

jolie (#16)

@saythatscool NOT UNTRUE


dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@saythatscool it's you!

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@saythatscool oh man you came back the day after I checked out for a while. :( and you didn't come back to TWTR. Man…

libmas (#231)

@whizz_dumb Question #3: "Given that the new Awl EIC's first duty will be to establish a site devoted exclusively to bear videos, is Bearbait an acceptable site name?"

laurel (#4,035)

@libmas How 'bout a porn site called Hot Poker?

@libmas : I'll see your BearBait and raise you an OtterFodder.

wiilliiaamm (#225)

Its all hi-falutin around these parts what with the Editor n' Chief and such. Jeezuz. How did this little corner of the Internetting get on with out one of those anyway?

stuffisthings (#1,352)

My moral compass just whizzes around and around like crazy before pegging on the nearest large pile of money.

Is that the same as how a columnist's works?

Mr. B (#10,093)

Does it pay enough for Manhattan rent, or Brooklyn rent? Jersey City rent?

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Oh hell yes.

Pandemic Endemic (#3,825)

More like "editor-in-chimp."

Let me get this straight. You're hiring your own boss? Cool. Can't believe you haven't already called the one person who comes close to meeting your qualifications. Her name is Cat Marnell. Her phone service is a little sketchy, but keep trying.

When will Choire be dropping the audio version of this posting?

shostakobitch (#1,692)

You know who would be great? Nick Denton from 10 years ago.

Ralph Haygood (#13,154)

I'll just remark that bigger isn't necessarily better, so I hope your "executing a larger vision" isn't at the expense of any of the incisive intelligence, unflinching honesty, and keen sense of the polymorphous geist of our perverse zeit that have thus far distinguished The Awl from a host of Lesser Publications.

Also, given you're so prosperous these days, could you maybe hire Ken Layne back from Nick Denton? Or was it a case of irreconcilable differences?

whizz_dumb (#10,650)

Apparently if you guys just keep posting job openings, everyone will start commenting again. They don't have to be real positions, just hire a "comment section hall monitor" or something.

City_Dater (#2,500)


"Comment Section Hall Monitor" = working title for next Vampire Weekend release.

brent_cox (#40)

I've been calling Choire/Carrie "chief" for yours. This will be an exciting opportunity to find something else to call the editor.

If I were EIC of the Awl everyone would get muffins. Everyone.

Could you be the new editor of The Awl? Sure, why the hell not.


florenc157 (#244,430)

Hello there, You have done an excellent job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.

KarenUhOh (#19)

Hell. I'll do it, if you ask nice.

libmas (#231)

@KarenUhOh Huzzah!

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