TIMES IN FOR A CHANGE: It’s very rare when a slew of high-profile journalism jobs open up at the same time at arguably the highest-profile newspaper in the country. It’s even more unusual when two of those jobs relate to fashion journalism.
Since The New York Times Sunday magazine editor Hugo Lindgren told his staff last week of his imminent departure, speculation of his possible successor has hit a high.
This story first appeared in the November 22, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Leading candidates for the job that continue to be mentioned are T: The New York Times Style Magazine editor Deborah Needleman and Sam Sifton, the Times’ former national news editor, who is now in charge of developing its digital magazine and a dining news vertical.
While both editors have their plates full, sources within the Times have suggested that a co-deputy editor situation could emerge until Lindgren’s post is filled. Both Sifton and Needleman did not return calls or e-mails seeking comment.
But it’s possible that a new hire may not happen until after Lindgren officially leaves the building at the end of the year. If the past serves as any indication, the spot may remain unfilled for a bit. After all, Sally Singer departed T magazine in August 2012 and that spot wasn’t filled for a full month until the Times hired Needleman.
One insider said that Bruce Headlam, the paper’s media desk editor, is also a dark horse candidate for the job, while another commented that “no one really knows” what the paper’s executive editor Jill Abramson “has in mind.”
“It’s a very tricky situation for them because the Times Sunday magazine is actually one of the highest-read sections after the A-book [front section of the paper],” noted a source with knowledge of the publication’s business operations. “Luxury advertising has essentially evaporated out of the Sunday magazine. It’s a double-edged sword as T magazine has gotten better and better. As well-written and beautifully reported as it [Lindgren’s magazine] was, it is just really hard [to sell ads].”
The source explained that the most successful Sunday magazines were themed issues such as the money or great entertainers issue, as the sales team would be able to more readily find a host of advertisers.
“What’s interesting is that we wanted to do more of those but Jill thought it was pandering. She wanted to do more hard-hitting journalism,” the source said, adding that while T, under both prior editor Stefano Tonchi and current editor Needleman, grabbed more ads, it was at the expense of the Sunday magazine.
“Jill likes Deborah,” the source said, offering that the T editor’s news and culture background could be an asset to the magazine, but “so too would Sifton’s.”
The other luxury-centric job at the Times is the Styles reporter post, which Eric Wilson left last month. Wilson, who decamped for InStyle magazine, served as one of the paper’s fashion critics and reporters.
Although it’s a midlevel position, the job is a prestigious one. According to Styles editor Stuart Emmrich, Wilson’s old gig is still up for grabs, and it may change somewhat in scope, “depending on who” they hire.
“I’ve talked to about a dozen people. I’m not going to talk about who’s in and not in the running, but at minimum, we’re weeks away [from hiring],” Emmrich said. “Right now, it’s so preliminary. I’m not in any rush to fill the position until fashion week in February.”