Condé Nast has confirmed Radhika Jones will officially take over as editor in chief of Vanity Fair when Graydon Carter steps down at the end of the year.
“Radhika is an exceptionally talented editor who has the experience and insight to drive the cultural conversation — balancing distinctive journalism with culture and humor,” Bob Sauerberg, president and chief executive officer of Condé Nast, said. “Her experience covering news and entertainment has given her a thorough understanding of the importance of chronicling and celebrating the moments that matter. With her expansive worldview, I know she will guide Vanity Fair’s history of provocative and enduring storytelling well into its future.”
“In Radhika, we are so proud to have a fearless and brilliant editor whose intelligence and curiosity will define the future of Vanity Fair in the years to come,” Anna Wintour, artistic director of Condé Nast and editor in chief of Vogue said.
Carter, who held the top spot on the masthead at one of Condé Nast’s most significant brands for 25 years, revealed his exit in September, setting off a frenzy of rumors and speculation about his successor. Names bandied about included The Hollywood Reporter’s Janice Min, GQ editor in chief Jim Nelson, People magazine editor Jesse Cagle, as well as wild-card choices such as Ronan Farrow and Anderson Cooper.
“There is nothing else out there quite like Vanity Fair,” Jones said. “It doesn’t just reflect our culture — it drives our understanding of it. It can mix high and low, wit and gravitas, powerful narrative and irresistible photography. It has a legacy of influential reporting, unmatchable style and, above all, dedication to its readers. I am honored to succeed Graydon Carter as editor and excited to get to work.”
Jones, 44, who comes to Vanity Fair from The New York Times, where she has been the editorial director of the books department for the past year, is a decidedly literary pick. Before going to The New York Times as the deputy managing editor of Time magazine, she was responsible for editing special issues including Time’s Person of the Year and the Time 100 and, prior to that, oversaw the magazine’s arts and culture coverage. A former top editor of The Paris Review and Artforum, she also received a Ph.D. in english and comparative literature from Columbia University.
“You can tell from her background that she is very, very smart. She grew up in a cool environment and has friends in pretty interesting circles,” Sauerberg told WWD. “I think the content is the number one thing we are focused on,” as well as “balancing incredible journalism with some fun things that you might not expect. And that’s really what she brings to the table”
Asked for an example of the unexpected, Sauerberg cited the fact that Jones went out to do karaoke after running the Time 100 party.
“She’s just a fun and interesting person. And she sees things that other people don’t see,” he said. “And that’s really what attracted me to her.”
“Not only is Radhika Jones an editor of substance, taste and style, she is also a good, fair and kind person. Get ready for greatness, you lucky Vanity Fair staff and readers,” Pamela Paul, the editor of The New York Times Book Review, wrote in a tweet. “Hiring Radhika Jones was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We will miss her terribly. But I’m glad to see Condé Nast make such a smart move.”
Hiring Jones, the first woman to run the magazine since Carter’s predecessor Tina Brown (who, coincidentally, has a book coming out this week about her time as the editor in chief of Vanity Fair), helps Condé Nast position itself as a company committed to diversity. Just as earlier this year, hiring Edward Enninful to head British Vogue won praise for the publisher at a time when Condé Nast is cutting budgets and shrinking staff.
And when it comes to the bottom line getting rid of Carter is also a boon to Condé, where Jones will reportedly be making a quarter of Carter’s bloated salary.