In With the New
Let me say a few words about the modern world, the last on the subject—or any subject—that I expect to be writing in this space in the foreseeable future.
For nearly 36 years, the editor of Texas Monthly had one job. Our founding editor, Bill Broyles, presided over the publication of twelve issues of Texas Monthly while working, many months, 24/7. His successor, Greg Curtis, did the same, as did I. Of course, there have always been other things in the editor’s charge, but the mother ship was the focus of Bill’s and Greg’s and my attention, and it definitely consumed the largest share.
Today, however, all of us here are increasingly contemplating and talking about and spending time on other platforms for distributing the content we create, existing and original, under the umbrella of the Texas Monthly brand. The most visible of these are our award-winning Web site, texasmonthly.com; editorial brand extensions, like How to Be Texan; and our sole broadcast brand extension, Texas Monthly Talks. But a lot of new and exciting activities are on the drawing board: more digital extensions, for instance, by way of curated areas of iTunes and YouTube. A mobile site so Texans on the go can access restaurant and event listings, blog content, and the like via iPhones, BlackBerrys, and regular old cell phones. A larger broadcast footprint, including a regular statewide public radio presence and, possibly, something syndicated nationally. An array of editorially driven events ranging from a college circuit to a tour of all 254 Texas counties, from Texas Monthly Talks Live to an annual Texas Monthly Ideas Festival, which would rival what the New Yorker and the Atlantic have pulled off with great fanfare.
This is just the tip of the iceberg—all very ambitious, all very much in line with the evolution of the magazine industry. It, and a lot more, is well within reach; the transformation of our business into one squarely positioned for success in the twenty-first century absolutely seems possible. But it won’t happen without acknowledging and embracing a certain amount of necessary change. The reality is that the way we ran Texas Monthly when it was solely or mainly twelve issues published each year doesn’t work when there are this many platforms in play. The job of editor of Texas Monthly in 2008 and beyond, it seems clear to me, is too complex and demanding for one person. Which is why I made the decision to split it into two parts.
Some of you may have heard or read that when our founder and publisher, Mike Levy, retired a few months back, I took on a new title: president and editor in chief. The thought was that I’d spend the bulk of my time leading the expansion and reimagining of Texas Monthly as we know it; I’d also keep a hand—or at least a couple of fingers—in the month-to-month editorial vision but cede the day-to-day detail work of running the magazine to a new editor. And I did: Jake Silverstein (left), a magnificently talented senior editor these past two years, has succeeded me in that post, and he’s already started to take us in new and intriguing directions. Starting next month, he’ll also be the one communicating with you as the author of our editor’s letter. But I named a second editor as well: Brian Sweany, who began here as an intern, worked his way up to senior editor, and has been serving of late as articles editor. As editor of special projects, Brian has ownership of the events, the broadcast piece of our business, the development of a mobile site, and most everything else that falls outside the margins of twelve-times-a-year Texas Monthly.
Jake and Brian are an amazing team, and all of you out there, readers and advertisers alike, will benefit from their intelligence, ebullience, and journalistic chops. All of us in here too. I can’t wait to see what great things they—and we, under their direction—accomplish in the years to come.
Bum Steers, John Spong in Afghanistan, why Juárez is like Iraq, Paul Burka’s legislative preview, and a legal battle over Katrina kids in Houston.