NEW YORK — “The Great Blackout of 2003” wasn’t much more than a big inconvenience for most of Manhattan’s magazine publishers, except for the staffs of the weeklies who needed to tear up their issues and slap the phrase...
NEW YORK — “The Great Blackout of 2003” wasn’t much more than a big inconvenience for most of Manhattan’s magazine publishers, except for the staffs of the weeklies who needed to tear up their issues and slap the phrase on covers in time for Saturday deadlines.
While newspapers and television stations in the affected areas struggled to implement their contingency plans immediately after the blackout struck Thursday afternoon, magazine publishers had the luxury of time. Some monthlies, like Condé Nast’s Vogue and Lucky, were in the process of closing October issues when their computer screens blinked out, but the work could wait. And both New York and The New Yorker were excused from the fray with regularly scheduled double issues — The New Yorker’s hit the street the Monday before, while New York had shipped its entire upcoming fashion double issue on Wednesday.
Even Time magazine had a relatively mellow time of it. As power flowed downtown from the north and the west, the Time & Life Building was up and running normally by 10 a.m. Friday. The visitor center was staffed by security guards instead of receptionists, and most of Time Inc. was staying home that day, they explained — except for employees of its flagship magazine. Time managing editor Jim Kelly was already settling into a regular workday by 11 a.m.
“We’re back on the grid,” he said cheerfully. “We even have air-conditioning. We’re just waiting for the cable to come back now [as was a lot of the city, thanks to Time Warner Cable still being out of service]. I’m sitting here listening to NPR.” Asked if this had made the cover, Kelly diplomatically explained, “This is a major story and will receive the coverage it deserves” and downplayed the New York navel-gazing. “What makes it so fascinating is not that I had to climb 12 flights of stairs to my apartment last night, but this affects Ohio and Canada as well.”
Newsweek’s staff wasn’t as lucky. When the power still hadn’t returned to its offices by 7 a.m. on Friday morning, managing editor Jon Meacham, executive editor Dorothy Kalins and approximately 50 other editors, writers, designers, photographers and technical support staff piled into a bus and set out for the magazine’s back-office complex in Mountain Lakes, N.J., an hour’s drive west of Manhattan.“We figured out how to link our production computers together, and we brought in a ton of equipment,” said Kalins on Saturday morning. “They sent all of their people home and we were there until about midnight. We tore up the complete issue.” But it still shipped on time. “We got out a few more pages than we would have gotten out on a regular Friday night,” Kalins said. “What’s amazing is how people overcame their discomfort and just settled down to work.”
Editor Mark Whitaker, who had been on vacation, rejoined his staff in Manhattan Saturday to finish the issue, which features the dark spire of the Empire State Building on its cover.
New York magazine’s office tower was still pitch black inside on Friday afternoon. The building’s emergency power had shut off — a half-dozen maintenance workers sat in office chairs outside, distributing melting chocolate to passersby and explaining that no one was going in, “unless you have a flashlight on you.” Staffers tried to enter the building throughout the day, a magazine spokeswoman said, but even the phones were dead. New York magazine had already warned that a blackout could happen — in 2001, a June cover story on the implications of the California energy crisis predicted, “If we don’t get smarter about energy sources for the city, in two years it’s California, here we come.” The magazine spokeswoman said to expect an “I-told-you-so” story in the weeks to come.
At the Condé Nast Building on the eastern edge of Times Square, editorial staffers trickled in throughout Friday morning and afternoon — one Vogue editor arrived wearing Keds — only to be turned away each time by security. The building was still closed and running on backup generators, even as tourist traps across the street and the Sephora up the block were open for business, and Broadway was preparing for a usual night Friday.
At the building, a guard stationed at the entrance Friday said it was likely that a few employees remained upstairs after spending Thursday night in their offices. A lot of people had already left, though, spending the night spread out on the floor of the lobby and under the glass awning outside, he said. “Not all of them were from Condé Nast, either.”
Alberta Ferretti's "Rainbow Week" sweaters are back. The designer closed her #MFW show with a few day-of-the-week sweaters, which first debuted on the catwalk last January as part of the pre-fall 2017 collection. #wwdfashion (📷: @delphineachard)