Vanity Fair editor in chief Radhika Jones, who took over from the magazine’s long-serving editor Graydon Carter in December, released her first editor’s letter from the March issue on Thursday morning.
The letter, which includes a photo of Jones shot by longtime Vanity Fair contributor Annie Leibovitz, outlines the magazine’s refreshed attitude and the changed cultural moment, while acknowledging the legacy of Carter and his predecessor Tina Brown.
“For those of us who care about storytelling, about influence, about soft and hard power, this is a singularly rich moment to be in journalism. I had my first, heady conversation about the editorship of Vanity Fair on September 20 of last year. Two weeks later, The New York Times published the first of its series of reports about Harvey Weinstein. Arguments that have simmered for years — about the importance of championing women, new voices, people who come from a wide range of ethnicities and backgrounds — are finding an audience,” Jones wrote. “It’s our mission at Vanity Fair to take the pulse of the culture — high and low, in former V.F. editor in chief Tina Brown’s classic formulation. That comes with tremendous opportunity: to draw attention to the people who are on the culture’s cutting edge, whose talent and creative vision transform the ways we see the world and ourselves.”
Although the March issue is the first to feature Jones’ letter, the monthly magazine’s editorial pace means that many of the pieces were assigned under Carter. As a Vanity Fair spokeswoman said earlier this year, March represents a “transition issue” and it will be more of a gradual progression until Jones’ DNA starts to really infuse the magazine — a fact that Jones addressed in her inaugural letter:
“I take the reins at Vanity Fair from the inimitable Graydon Carter, who held them for 25 years. He brought a passion to the role that I deeply admire and hope to emulate. V.F. pieces take time to conceive and report and publish, so this issue bears both our fingerprints, though the pages that follow will give you a hint of the new look to come,” she wrote.
Meanwhile, Jones’ DNA has started to infuse the magazine in other ways. In mid-February, around 20 high-ranking staffers were laid off from Vanity Fair, including managing editor Chris Garett, features editor Jane Sarkin and deputy editors Aimee Bell and Dana Brown. Just this week, deputy editor Stephanie Mehta left to become editor in chief of Fast Company. Also this week, Jones began making some hires, including Time magazine’s Claire Howorth, Coveteur’s Caryn Prime and Elle’s Keziah Weir.
But despite the inevitable changes that come with a new editor, especially after 25 years, to judge from Jones’ letter, much of Vanity Fair’s mandate will remain the same. “Vanity Fair is about personality and power and influence, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley to Washington to Wall Street and all around our changing world. I hope the cast of characters in our next chapter will surprise you. I hope our writing and our images will entice you. I hope you’ll find stories that you didn’t even know you’ve been waiting for,” Jones concludes.
On Sunday, Jones will host Vanity Fair’s Oscar Party.