After five years as the No. 2 editor at The New York Times Magazine , Adam Moss is being handed its reins. As of April 1, Jack Rosenthal, the magazine’s current editor and an assistant managing editor of the daily newspaper, will have the title of editor in chief of the magazine, as well as have supervisory duties. Most of his time, however, will be devoted to the special issues of the magazine-at least six-planned in 1999 to herald the arrival of the millennium. Mr. Moss’ new title is editor.
“I felt that if we were embarking on such an ambitious project, as I said to Jack and Adam, I wanted one editor who’d wake up each morning feeling obsessive about the millennium project and the other editor to wake up feeling obsessive about the magazine,” said The New York Times ‘ executive editor, Joseph Lelyveld.
Mr. Moss, whose name usually turns up when there’s a vacancy anywhere in the magazine business, rose to deputy editor at Esquire during the 80’s and then went on to launch 7 Days, a stylish weekly published by Village Voice owner Leonard Stern, who pulled the plug in 1990. In the early 1990’s, he tried to start The Industry , to cover the converging world of media. But, dead center in a media recession, he couldn’t raise the necessary $8 million, and he landed at The Times , where he consulted on various sections, helped launch its Style section and brought a sprightly quality to the magazine as editorial director. Mr. Moss did not return calls.
Just one issue into his tenure as the new editor of National Review , Richard Lowry already has pushed through some noticeable changes at the conservative magazine. But it’s a move not yet visible-the downgrading of senior editor Peter Brimelow’s role to that of a contributor-that has the right-wing media community and Washington policy wonks buzzing about a sea change in the philosophy of William F. Buckley Jr.’s creation.
National Review , alone among the major conservative media outlets such as The Weekly Standard , the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal and The American Spectator , has taken a hard line on immigration. And Mr. Brimelow, a British immigrant upset with what he views as the decline of assimilationist tendencies among the new arrivals, has led that crusade with his writings. He wants to close the door on immigrants who would upset the pure racial identity of the United States. “The American nation has always had a specific ethnic core,” he wrote in his 1995 book, Alien Nation: Common Sense About American’s Immigration Disaster . “And that core has been white.”
With Mr. Brimelow knocked back to contributor status, and his ideological soul mate and fellow British immigrant, former editor John O’Sullivan, now just an editor at large, some conservatives sense that National Review is withdrawing from the battle over immigration. The issue is one of the conservative movement’s fault lines, and many in the Republican Party fret that tough restrictions will offend Hispanics, the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population and a key voting bloc.
That sentiment, according to some writers at the magazine and elsewhere in the conservative community, appears to hold sway with the Washington bureau of National Review , from which the 29-year-old Mr. Lowry came. And they suspect that Mr. Buckley has tacked toward that view.
Mr. Lowry and Mr. Buckley insist the speculation is misguided. “There is no change in sentiment or analysis here on the immigration issue,” said Mr. Buckley. Added Mr. Lowry: “We’re always going to be hostile to the kind of bedtime stories that support the pro-immigration lobby. It’s just a scandal we don’t have control of our borders.”
Mr. Lowry said he made the Brimelow move because he wanted his senior editors to be more involved in running the magazine, and Mr. Brimelow’s senior editor duties at Forbes precluded that. Mr. Brimelow, who learned of his demotion via mail, declined to comment.
Despite the pledge of allegiance to the nativist faith, readers shouldn’t expect regular laments complaining about how bad these new immigrants are for the country. “Some issues just aren’t as close to [Mr. Lowry’s] heart,” said one source at the New York-based magazine. “Immigration is not quite the burning priority it was for John O’Sullivan.”
Some National Review watchers also have been surprised with how quickly Mr. Lowry has put his mark on the magazine because they assumed the naming of a very young editor was a sign that Mr. Buckley wished to reassert day-to-day control of the magazine. However, in his first issue, dated Jan. 26, Mr. Lowry demonstrated his independence by dumping the On the Scene section, which featured dispatches from overseas that often did not have the political context Mr. Lowry desires. He has eliminated “The Week in Verse,” 36 or so lines of doggerel that are sure to be missed. (A sample from the final installment: “Christmas is coming! Underneath the tree- Miss Reno finds her new assistant, Lee .”) National Review’ s version of a crossword puzzle, called the Trans-O-Gram, is gone. And Mr. Lowry has killed Gekko, John Dizard’s financial column that ran each issue. (Mr. Dizard is negotiating with the New York Post to write a Wall Street column, according to two sources.)
Mr. Buckley said that Mr. Lowry needs to check with him on any changes only if they imply policy shifts. Asked if he’ll be as hands-on with the magazine as Martin Peretz is with his toy, The New Republic , Mr. Buckley answered with a laugh: “No. Comma. God, no.”
A two-month game of chicken between Sports Illustrated chief of reporters Jane Bachman Wulf and Time Inc. editor in chief Norman Pearlstine and his sidekick Henry Muller has finally come to an end, with Ms. Wulf heading off to Sports Illustrated for Kids . Although the corporate editorial brass would have preferred Ms. Wulf to vacate the premises completely, they’re still picking up her salary at her new job, according to Time Inc. sources.
The trouble with Bambi (Ms. Wulf’s nickname) began last fall after her husband, Time senior writer Steve Wulf, landed an executive editor gig at ESPN Magazine , the forthcoming competitor to Sports Illustrated . Worried that she’d be a direct pipeline to her husband because she sits in on Sports Illustrated’s twice-weekly editorial meetings, Mr. Pearlstine dispatched editorial director Mr. Muller to tell her it was time to move elsewhere in the company. The Sports Illustrated executive team did not argue too strenuously with Mr. Muller’s and Mr. Pearlstine’s somewhat paranoid take on the situation.
During the almost weekly meetings Mr. Muller held with Ms. Wulf through the fall, he encouraged her to take some time off while proffering no other job in the vast Time Inc. empire, Time Inc. sources told Off the Record. Ms. Wulf at first resisted the pressure, arguing that nearly 21 years of loyalty to Sports Illustrated should count for something. But when Sports Illustrated for Kids managing editor Neil Cohen offered Ms. Wulf a position as director of special projects, she decided to give up the fight.
Ms. Wulf, according to company sources, did not have to take a pay cut, but she does have to work five days a week instead of four. Ms. Wulf, however, will still be sitting in on editorial meetings at the junior version of Sports Illustrated, a prospect that apparently doesn’t bother the editorial powers at Time Inc.
Ms. Wulf declined to comment on the deal. Mr. Pearlstine referred questions to Mr. Muller, who was traveling and could not be reached.
This seeming overreaction to Ms. Wulf’s marital predicament indicates just how seriously Time Inc. executives are taking the ESPN Magazine project, despite their public displays of sanguineness. Mr. Pearlstine has informed several people at Time Inc. that ESPN Magazine represents the biggest threat to Time Inc. since the launch of Newsweek. (Mr. Pearlstine told Off the Record that he “also said that that’s like being the best left-handed heavyweight in Jersey City.”) “Even if it’s a terrible magazine, the promotional power of ESPN makes it a formidable competitor,” said a senior Time Inc. executive.
And ESPN is not making it too difficult to divine what audience the sports cable channel is targeting with its glossy, Rolling Stone -sized magazine. A just-mailed subscription solicitation contains not-so-subtle digs at its entrenched competitor, even if a certain 44-year-old magazine that rakes in more than $115 million in profits a year is never mentioned by name. “Shorter, snappier stories” are promised by editor in chief John Papanek in the four-page direct-mail letter. “Not 10-page yawners about some minor league hockey player growing up on a farm in Manitoba. Or some former world leader stalking bone fish off the Florida coast.”
Now we come to the part of Off the Record where we inject the irony. Back when Mr. Papanek was the managing editor of Sports Illustrated in the early 1990’s, he ran a lengthy feature by Franz Lidz about Don King’s hair that the previous managing editor, Mark Mulvoy, had barred from the magazine’s pages. The headline: “From Hair to Eternity.” Some of Mr. Papanek’s other longer stories, according to Michael MacCambridge’s history of Sports Illustrated , included a Maryanne Vollers feature about endangered animals in Zambia and a longtime contributor’s golden retriever named Luke.
Morale may be high at The New York Times , but that doesn’t mean employees think management has a clue about what it’s doing.
Such fascinating factoids can be found in a recent edition of Ahead of The Times , the internal newsletter of The Times’ news department. The newsletter reported the results of a survey conducted for The Times last September by Sirota Consulting. The survey found that 78 percent of Times workers were proud to toil for the not-so-Gray Lady, and that 88 percent thought the paper was of high quality and was interesting to read. But only 36 percent thought top management knew what it wants. Just 30 percent gave management high marks for making them feel that they’re an integral part of the company. And a mere 22 percent of employees said they trust management.