The first edition of Graydon Carter’s Air Mail is coming up and he has a lot of familiar names on hand for the launch.
Although the former longtime Vanity Fair editor in chief has been hiring for his new venture, a weekly online newsletter in the works for about a year, it’s happened with no major announcements or press releases. WWD has learned there have been a number of additions to the masthead, beyond Carter and Alessandra Stanley, who will be the top editors.
First up is Michael Hainey, who is now a deputy editor at Air Mail and thought to have joined up very soon after his departure from Esquire, when Jay Fielden left as editor in chief. Early on in his career, Hainey worked for Carter while the latter was editor in chief of Spy magazine.
But several other new Air Mail staffers worked more recently under Carter during his tenure at Vanity Fair.
Among them is Jim Kelly, a contributing editor to VF for almost a deacade under Carter who is Air Mail’s new books editor. Bridget Arsenault will be Air Mail’s London editor, having worked in the city for Vanity Fair for almost a decade, too, and Bob Mankoff, who left The New Yorker in 2017 after 20 years, will be the new cartoon editor. Marc Leyer, who spent 17 years as VF’s director of finance and business operations, is taking up that role at Air Mail. The lead on brand partnerships is Anjali Lewis, who has been the chief marketing officer of Alexander Wang since 2017 but earlier spent almost a decade as an associate publisher for VF.
Other Air Mail staffers who Carter previously revealed are Laura Jacobs, another longtime VF contributing editor, who is Air Mail’s new “arts intel report” editor and Julia Vitale, who’s a senior editor. She started at VF as an assistant but stayed on after Carter’s departure to become an assistant editor under Carter’s successor Radhika Jones. Adam Nadler also defected from VF to be Air Mail’s sole copy editor, along with Scott Jolley, Air Mail’s new production editor.
There are also a few additions who have not worked directly in editorial with Carter at some point in his long magazine career. Ashley Baker, executive director of fashion blog Daily Front Row, is Air Mail’s style editor. The chief technology officer is John Tornow, one of three cofounders of Zig, a news organizing app that Carter invested in. Isabelle Harvie-Watt is also on as a strategic adviser. She last year had a brief stint as chief marketing officer for Valentino and earlier spent many years leading global communications for Giorgio Armani.
All told, Air Mail’s masthead now counts 28 people, and nearly half previously worked with Carter for years, most of them at VF. Many of them were also cut by publisher Condé Nast shortly after Carter’s exit from the title. In his final letter for that magazine, released in January 2018, Carter wrote that “great magazines, if they are to last over time, are created with a consistency in staff.”
“I like working with people I can trust and who have been through the same wars,” he wrote. “I always say that about 75 percent of the time an editor knows pretty much what to do. As for that other 25 percent, a wise one will surround himself with smart, experienced colleagues who can help steer him toward the best possible decision. And it’s that final 25 percent that makes the difference between success and failure.”
Carter isn’t launching a magazine, but maybe the same math will hold for an online newsletter.
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