Three years ago, when I took over Texas Monthly from the previous editor in chief, I elected not to mark the occasion with the sort of sweeping changes that often accompany a shift at the top of the masthead. Some new hires were made, some small adjustments here and there, but by and large the design of the magazine remained the same, as did the writers, the regular features, and the style of the covers. New editors almost always rush to put their stamp on a publication as quickly as possible, but this often has to do with the editor’s own desire to shed the baggage of the past and see his ideas on the page. In our case, the magazine was running smoothly (that spring we’d won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence), and the time, I decided, was not yet ripe for a top-to-bottom renovation.
Instead, we focused on less obvious improvements. We deepened our commitment to the kind of long-form literary journalism that put Texas Monthly on the map in the first place. We recognized that, with the news cycle speeding up and becoming more relentless, the value of our brand of storytelling was only increasing. When information is flying by every day, sometimes in no more than 140 characters at a time, an eight-thousand-word article that sits prominently on newsstands, coffee tables, or tablets for one full month plays a unique and vital role. So we worked harder than ever, sentence by sentence, to make these stories—which constitute the heart of any issue of Texas Monthly—not just good but great, well worth a significant investment of our readers’ time. We also rededicated ourselves to civic journalism. This has always been a part of Texas Monthly, but we moved it to center stage, publishing special issues on immigration and drought and hosting numerous roundtable discussions on the state’s most serious problems. Meanwhile, we poured energy and resources into other platforms of our business, launching the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival (coming up on its third sellout year this month), building one of the largest social media