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Newly discovered, an endearing and near-giddy interview with David Remnick, undated but I'm assuming from 1998 or thereabouts, when he assumed editorship of the magazine. [The interview is now offline, but still at the Wayback Machine.] Interview by Orville Schell, brother of Jonathan Schell, the nicest visionary I know. Quick quote from the Remnick transcript (with cosmetic punctuation corrections; I hereby volunteer to copyedit the thing for free, Berkeley):

It’s curious, isn’t it, if people come to sort of think that a magazine actually belongs to them in some way.

They do! And I’m glad of it! In a way. I’m glad when they get angry about a change! It shows they are paying attention in some passionate way. When I get these letters: ‘I’ve been a subscriber for 25 years and I think it’s an outrage that you misuse the word X...,' God love them! I just think that’s fantastic! And I don't mean it in a patronizing way. I want to not only answer this letter, which I do, but I want to look the address up and go and give them a hug and a big kiss. I mean it! Who could ask for anything more than that?

Malcom Gladwell published a piece about a very strange developmental psychologist who believed that parents don’t matter, that really what matters most is peer groups, and we got hundreds of letters from apoplectic yuppie parents like myself. “What do you mean we don’t matter!” I just thought this was spectacular! And it can be on a grammatical point as well—“Where is that umlaut?” I got one such letter—three pages long. Oh my god, if those two little dots disappear over coördinated, we’re dead in the water!

Later: There are a few more particularly well-spoken bits, for instance Remnick's description of the editing process at magazines as opposed to newspapers: "You’re talking about a process that can go on for weeks. It’s a conversation. It’s a cajoling. It’s a jujitsu. But finally it is about getting that writer to do the piece that he or she wants." And on the public visibility of editors: "The magazine is not an esoteric church. It’s not a secret and I’m not a secret."

Not to mention:

Do you think [Ben Bradlee] had his eye on the market, or do you think he had his eye on...

No. I know time and time again he got all kinds of complaints from advertisers. And without being a jerk about it, without being rude about it, the essential answer for him was, “That’s what we do.”

Has that changed in America now, the ability to say that of some editor?

Not where I stand! I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but clearly it hasn’t. Look, I did not leave writing to pander. Do I hope that we get more and more advertising and that The New Yorker becomes healthier and healthier on the financial side? You bet I do! You bet I do! But not through the easy route. We could do, you know, a market test tomorrow and find out all the obvious things. Drop this, drop that and more of this. Forget it! Forget it! This magazine will publish fiction, it will publish poetry, it will publish foreign reporting! And you and I both know that in the world of focus groups these are not number one on the list. But they will be there in The New Yorker.
And this:

What do you think the legacy of Tina Brown will be?

I think Tina had a lot of guts. And I think that Tina, like any editor, went out and hired a lot of writers that she liked, and that The New Yorker has every reason to be very very proud of her. I also think that it took an outsider, to come in and say, “We can’t do this? Well, yes, I think, we can. I can’t do this? Well let’s just try.” And I think that that attitude went a long way toward shaking the magazine up visually and otherwise, and toward introducing topics that weren’t there before. Again, the topic that always seems to come up is Hollywood. But it’s ridiculous to say it wasn’t there before. Kenneth Tynan, probably one of the best profile writers in the history of the magazine, wrote profiles of Mel Brooks, Louise Brooks, Ralph Richardson and so on.

The look of the magazine is forever changed and I’m glad of it. I’m glad not to have to make the change to photographs myself. Yes, photographs! Cause we took a lot of guff for it, a lot! Such changes take moxie!

You tell 'em, DR!

Is It Real or Is It Remnorex?
Fly Continental
Casual Friday
Remnick: "There's a Reason Things Taste Better When They Simmer"
Urban Golf, The Week, and Sex on Legs
Remnick: "I Read Blogs"
New Yorker People in the News
Legacies in the Ether
Last Stand
The Mixed-Up Files of Mr. Basil E. Remnick

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