A Friend Writes: ‘Who Is Running The New Yorker?’

Officially, there is no such thing as the New Yorker masthead. The New Yorker is so averse to having a masthead that The New Yorker will not even comment about why it chooses not to have a masthead.

As a result, the people who make the magazine have spent generations veiled by the fictitious persona of mascot Eustace Tilley-and the quasi-fictitious non-personae of the legendary editors, Mr. Ross and Mr. Shawn. They emerge from the shadows only for obituaries.

The writers at least have bylines-and since the editorship of Tina Brown, some have also had their professional credentials briefly sketched on a weekly contributors’ page. But above them in the editors’ offices, and below them in the research and fact-checking realms, anonymity reigns.

Nevertheless, the magazine does have a full staff-a large one, even-and the staffers do have both names and job titles. There are, in other words, all the components necessary to make a masthead. Gathering and assembling those components is another matter. Working from a variety of sources-including interviews, the News Media Yellow Book, an in-house phone list and back issues of the magazine-it was possible to pull together a piecemeal approximation of some portion of the masthead. But even the most straightforward-seeming business, that of the writers, got tricky. The contributors’ notes, studied in series, raise almost as many questions as they answer: Does it matter whether Peter Schjeldahl is tagged “the magazine’s art critic,” or someone who simply “writes about the art world for the magazine”? Does Lillian Ross have a title other than “a longtime staff member”? Is Roger Angell a writer or “a fiction editor,” as he’s sometimes identified? Answers: not exactly, yes and formally neither one. The New Yorker declined to supply the names of any of its staff, but a spokesperson agreed to confirm names and to provide missing titles. The result is almost certainly approximate and incomplete. Still, it exists.