“While most magazines have their moments in the culture, The New Yorker has mattered a lot at various points in time,” said David Remnick, the magazine’s editor. New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute hosted a wide-ranging conversation with him on Tuesday evening.
Remnick shared his candid thoughts on his career, his editorial role, the magazine’s print and digital content and occasional controversies. While being The New Yorker editor is a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity, many takeaways from Remnick’s experiences about career timing, managing work relationships, having strong competitors and staying relevant apply across positions.
Below are selected highlights.
Early career: “There were things back then called paid internships”, Remnick emphasized, (in his only reference to the ongoing Conde Nast internship controversy). He got an internship at Newsday, and another at The Washington Post. He also taught English in Japan and served as WaPo’s foreign correspondent in Moscow, competing for stories with Bill Keller of The New York Times.
He attributes his eventual switch from newspapers to magazines to the waiting room at his father’s dental practice. He spent time there reading magazines while listening to rock music. “The New Yorker was hard to grasp beyond the cartoons when I was little, but I warmed to it.”
Being named editor : After Tina Brown left, Remnick, who had been working at The New Yorker, became editor. He said he got the job, even though he had no prior professional editorial experience, after Sy Newhouse’s initial choice was nixed. As Remnick recalled, “they really needed an editor in a hurry. But the geometry of my relationships with other editors changed, and that’s still complicated.”