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Blasphemy! A Biweekly 'New York Magazine' Could Be Even Better
Jon Steinberg | Photo: Courtesy nymag.com | December 2, 2013
You can't keep Adam Moss down, says a guy who used to work for him.
"Watch out, Adam's on the warpath."
This warning, alluding to my former boss at New York Magazine, editor-in-chief Adam Moss, was usually spoken by one of my fellow senior editors, usually during what we called "orange weeks." These were the ten "down" weeks during the year that came after we'd put to bed a double-issue that would reside on newsstands for a luxurious two weeks instead of the normal, too-rapid one. (We called them orange weeks because that's the color with which they were highlighted on our editorial calendars.) Orange weeks were when the magazine's staffers could theoretically take quickie vacations, treat writers to long-promised lunches, and catch up on all the banal stuff that had been stacking up (every editor I knew had an orange week pile on the desk). It was when, supposedly, we could catch our breath.
But orange weeks were also the time when our sage leader, Adam, was at his most demanding. Give an editor as brilliant and tireless and productively neurotic as Adam an idle week to think hard about the magazine that he wanted to be publishing, and you better believe that his sense of urgency would trickle down to your office. That's what made—what still makes—New York Magazine unequivocally the finest magazine in the land: It is Adam Moss's astonishing ambition, energy, and resourcefulness made tactile.
Today's news that my alma mater, where I worked for six years starting in the mid-aughts, is dropping its frequency from weekly (actually, quasi-weekly, with 42 issues a year) to biweekly, has hit print magazine junkies like me hard. (Search for NYMag on Twitter to read the rest of the media world's laments.) As Adam himself told the New York Times's David Carr, it's hard not to be wistful about something that's been as dependable and beloved and award-winning and often sublime as NY Mag. It also feels like an indictment of the magazine industry itself, that perhaps print magazines as we know them really aren't cut out for our digital environment, and that pretty soon, we'll all be producing quirky listicles for Buzzfeed and writing manipulative headlines for Upworthy.
But I'm trying hard today not to subscribe to that level of pessimism. And the reason starts with my experience of the orange week, from which many, many of the weekly's best, and most memorable ideas sprang. For those who are already writing off the new, biweekly NYMag as an empire in decline, I'd encourage you to think about the creative and journalistic potential that comes from having some time to pause, regroup, plan, think, go for a midweek stroll. (This is a very San Francisco point of view, by the way. My ex-colleagues in NYC are probably spitting out their scotches right now.) As readers, we know it can be hard to keep up with those weekly arrivals of New Yorkers and New Yorks, so imagine what it's like to actually work on them. It's exhausting—and sometimes self-defeating. You think every writer or editor at a magazine like New York is working at top form every week? Ha!
But now that every other week at New York is going to be an orange week, the results might actually be as positive as the magazine's leadership hopes. I can only imagine what's going on in Adam's fertile (and, some say, sadistic) imagination right now. Don't cry for NY Mag today, folks. The boss is still on the warpath.