The August 20, 2007 issue
included a feature about New Yorkers living longer than people
elsewhere in the country, one about adoption, and another about a Long Beach
surfer. How did each of these make it into that specific issue? What was
your thinking in terms of how they complemented one another editorially,
and which segments of New York's readership they would appeal to?
You give us more credit for thinking these things through than we deserve. In this issue in particular, I'm afraid to say that we pretty much ran what we had, though we ended up very happy with each story.
Clive Thompson's story was prompted by an intriguing study about the life expectancy of New Yorkers; we wanted Clive to investigate its truth and argue with it. The adoption story, which was about blended families and was written by Emily Nussbaum, who happens to be Clive's wife, was a reaction to the public circus around blended families created by celebrities like Madonna and Angelina Jolie; we were interested in reporting on what happens to the family dynamics of non-celebrities who adopt kids from other cultures. As for the surfer, he just seemed like a gnarly subject, though I'm not actually sure what gnarly means.
We rarely make a mix based on demographic considerations. We just try to publish a well-rounded picture of New York that all segments of our readership will appreciate.
Walk us through the planning process for an individual issue of New
York: If there's no specific peg (i.e. Fashion Week, Fall Preview), how
do you choose which features that will appear in that issue? What
meetings/conversations occur between you and your staff, and when
(relative to issue date) do they occur?
These kinds of conversations are going on all the time. Things are ginned up at the last minute when news breaks, but writers also work for months on stories -- sometimes two or three at a time. There is a formal process in place, involving a schedule of meetings that's too boring to go into, but we violate it as much as we stick to it.
|"Stories fall apart and we're left frantically looking for decent stories to publish."|
What's a recent example of a change to an issue's story lineup extremely
close to deadline? When did that occur (date and time), and what spurred
the sudden change?
It happened [in the October 8, 2007] issue, actually: We'd been working on a piece about Daniel Libeskind for a while, but we hadn't yet slotted it in to run. When the news came last week that Libeskind had been chosen to design what could end up the largest residential building in New York, we put it into the issue we were just starting to close. Then last Friday, we changed the cover story closing this week because an extremely interesting book became available, and we were lucky enough to get a piece of it. More often, though, changes to a lineup are defensive. Stories fall apart and we're left frantically looking for decent stories to publish.
With a feature that isn't pegged to a specific event, do you have a
specific run date in mind at the time you assign it, or do you aim to
have multiple 'evergreen' features in the works so that you can slot
them into non-time-specific issues when there are slots needing to be
Both. On the other hand, I can't remember the last time we met a target date.
[This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]