The New York Times Magazine is gearing up for a big redesign in early 2015. But editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein tells Capital that readers will see a number of smaller changes in less than two weeks' time.
"We're cleaning up the book in anticipation of the redesign," he said.
This coming Sunday's issue will be the last hurrah for "The One-Page Magazine" and "Who Made That," two front-of-book franchises that were created under Silverstein's predecessor, Hugo Lindgren, who had in turn reimagined the Times Magazine during a three-year stint from fall of 2010 until his ouster in November 2013.
The former was a collection of bite-sized blurbs mimicking a full magazine layout; the latter was a column that reported on the provenance of commonplace objects like the snow globe and the stiletto heel.
In place of The One-Page Magazine, Silverstein is resurrecting a brief opening essay that will be generated by staff writers and new voices alike.
Additionally, Silverstein is nixing the back-of-book section, except for the "Lives" column on the last page. "Look," a photo essay, will be killed, while foodie favorite "Eat" will move to the front of the book along with a modified, shorter version of "Riff," a thinky cultural essay that will no longer appear in every issue. Long-standing front-of-book columns like The Ethicist and a weekly Q&A aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
Long-form, narrative storytelling has always been a staple of the Times Magazine, but it appears that Silverstein, who was formerly the editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly, is pushing that button even harder.
The changes will add a few pages to the feature well, which will grow from three to four stories a week, he said, and they will draw on the talents of an array of new writers and editors Silverstein has brought on over the past five months, such as Maureen Dowd and Emily Bazelon.
"We're trying to create more spaces in the magazine for writers to have both the forms and the room to do great work," he said, "and for us to be able to publish as many forms and types of great writing as we can."
The full redesign will be a test of the Times' enduring clout in the print advertising arena, which has been a challenged part of the business over the past several years.
The magazine was recently given its own publisher, Andy Wright, a first in Times history, and his job is to turn around the advertising slump that has dogged the publication even as revenues at T, a luxury-oriented sister title, have grown. T's ad pages were up 5 percent in 2013, while the Times Magazine's were down 4 percent, accoring to company figures. (Industry groups do not track the titles separately.)
"We have big plans for the magazine," advertising chief Meredoth Kopit Levien told Capital in an interview recently. "In terms of the audience that it reaches, in terms of the quality and scale, there is probably no better buy on earth from an efficiency standpoint than the Sunday magazine."
The magazine's ad pages for September are up year over year, according to the Times, which declined to provide specific revenue figures.