With the news that editor Hugo Lindgren will be leaving the top slot at the New York Times magazine at the end of the year, it’s incumbent on all of us to dream of who we’d like to take the helm next. Last time around Daniel Zalewski came close to taking the job before being quite well-retained by the New Yorker. Sam Tanenhaus was also in that mix; he is now without particular portfolio. There are plenty of good editor candidates inside the Times: Bruce Headlam, for one, and certainly Sam Sifton isn’t being taken advantage of currently, tasked with creating “an immersive digital magazine experience” at the Times. (There were conflicting views on what this new posting meant: some people viewed it as Sifton being out of favor with the powers that be; others viewed it as a holding pen until the departure of Lindgren. Oh also some other people thought it was a real job too, sure. In any event, we’d all happily read a Sifton-led magazine, no doubt.) Who else? Probably Trish Hall (now running Op-Ed); also Carolyn Ryan, who’s held two big jobs (metro and politics) since coming to the paper in 2007. Oh, and also there’s Pamela Paul, who just literally turned the Book Review into a different animal over night — quite a feat. I would certainly also read a magazine put together by Alexandra Jacobs, currently in Styles. But they’re all busy. Apart from them, there’ll be a bunch of hungry young fellows who have been dreamin’ and schemin’ for this job. Who wants that though?
The problem with choosing a magazine editor is: do you want an editor, or a business-person, or a manager, or a visionary? Maybe you want all four, but those that bridge those skills entirely are usually boring, or monstrous, or insane. So let’s look further afield, shall we? I mean not too far, but, at least beyond a certain kind of list, you know?
• Valerie Steiker
Long-time Voguer, currently the culture editor; sharp, precise, disciplined, well-connected, passionate, and extremely smart. While the Times unfortunately couldn’t appreciate the genius that is Sally Singer, Valerie might be a better match.
• Janine Gibson
Came to our baffling country to run the Guardian’s U.S. edition, snapped up talent and then mopped the floor with the competition, changing America’s view of its government along the way.
• Janice Min
I have no idea what’s going on out on the other coast these days, but back in New York, Janice Min just absolutely destroyed at Us Weekly. But even while she dominated the landscape of celeb tabloid, she was plugged-in, thoughtful and hyper-literate. From a business perspective, at the very least, there may be no better magazine editor today.
• Ellen Barry
Surely one of the greatest reporters in the world would know how to make a publication that demands attention from the entire planet.
• Sina Najafi
Founding editor of Cabinet, the 13-year-old smarty-pants yet also hilarious non-profit publication, Najafi exists way outside the media bubble, busy not just making a top-notch magazine but creating pranks, panels and performances.
• Tom McGeveran
Capital New York, now under the stewardship of Politico, won’t need him forever. Perhaps the last of the great culturally polyglot story-telling editors.
• Fletcher Roberts
This Times editor that you never hear about? He edits both Jons Caramanica and Pareles, so, yeah.
• Mark Lotto
Just landed at Medium after a few years at GQ after a good stretch at the end of the David Shipley-era Times op-ed page; he edited this, so, yup. (Also we needed a straight white man for this list. You know. For “balance.”)
• Clara Jeffery
Co-honcho of Mother Jones for the last seven years, breaking news and egos, but has roots in story-making from the last great era of Harper’s magazine — including the work that became Nickeled and Dimed.
• Anna Holmes
The anti-narcissist; the behind-the-scenes Jezebel founder knows how to make a genre-altering publication by letting writers be stars.
• Tom de Kay
Ran a spectacular iteration of the Home section at the Times for a few years before becoming art and architecture editor; was once an editor-in-chief before, at Surface.
• Rafil Kroll-Zaidi
The wild man of Harper’s magazine makes the pieces run. He’d turn the mag into a delightful animal, alienating the suburbs but bringing in a next generation of readers.
• Mark Harris
Well-regarded as a columnist and currently on the eve of the publication of his second intensively researched book of film history, it’s easy to forget that his reign as executive editor at Entertainment Weekly made it into a powerhouse.
• Renata Adler
Word on the street is that Ms. Adler is returning to New York City from Connecticut and is ready to rumble. Can you imagine? I certainly can. Oh did you want her to have a meeting with the ad boys? Lotsa luck!