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Tina Brown on The New Yorker: "I Would Probably Redesign It Again"

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Here’s Brown, interviewed by the Indian Express:
As a long-time editor, how would you say media could gauge the requirements of the time?
I think one of the things that’s really difficult now, and journalists have to keep on is, just when you think you know everything, you don’t know anything at all. There are two kinds of stories. One is a complete news story that you find and break, which is immensely valuable and probably the first thing you should be trying to do. But the other kind of story is also very valuable, where you go back to a story where everybody thinks they know what happened. I mean, I still have not read the definitive piece about Musharraf’s coup, a blow-by-blow tick-tock as we call it of the decision, the hows and whys. I’ll still read this piece at Christmas because it takes time to plan and tease it out of people. I’m a big fan of the depth and the context, which is almost all you can provide in the age of the Internet. Even at the New Yorker in 1997 it became a nightmare trying to protect our news. Then when I went to Talk, one reason why I couldn’t stand it there, it was a monthly. News had so accelerated that it made me nuts that even with a very deep, contextual piece, you began to feel that it had been nibbled at by so many mice.

But you also came in for some criticism at the New Yorker for making it too newsy, too current.
I saw myself as providing two strands of journalism there. I thought it was very important to have a news element to provide what I used to think of as a threshold piece. To bring people into the tent you have to have a piece about whatever it was that week, this piece that couldn’t wait. Then you could go, in the middle of the magazine, to the big tent piece, the piece that had taken 12,000 words and six months to do. I saw it always as a two-horse stream. And I felt committed to the notion that people would have to read it that week. It can still happen, in an upmarket magazine, people say, “oh, it’s a great magazine, I haven’t got to it yet, but it’s terrific, the last three issues are piled up by my bed.” And I would think, that’s not a compliment. That means, I failed.

Ten years later, what would you do at The New Yorker?
I would probably redesign it again. I might make a shorter front of the book section. I’m an admirer of the Spectator magazine in London. It does a very good job of a front that’s interesting, voices that you come to every week.
Thanks to Sans Serif for the link. In other news, David Remnick will be speaking at Princeton on November 20:
In “A Conversation With David Remnick,” he will participate in a discussion with Michael Wood, the Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English and Comparative Literature, on topics ranging from Russian politics to the U.S. presidential race to famed journalist A.J. Liebling.

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