November 14, 2017
Radhika Jones is named editor at Vanity Fair, will probably be great
by Taylor Sperry
After two months of scuttlebutt, Condé Nast has officially named an editor to succeed Graydon Carter at Vanity Fair. For the New York Times, Sydney Ember reports that Radhika Jones—who for the past year has been the editorial director of the books department at the Times, and was formerly deputy managing editor at TIME and managing editor at the Paris Review—will be stepping into the coveted role on December 11.
Many have expressed surprise at the appointment: “Ms. Jones is hardly the gallivanting celebrity editor many media observers assumed would end up as [Carter’s] successor,” Ember writes. And, before the announcement became official, Peter Kafka addressed speculations about Jones’s hire for Recode: “It will surprise plenty of people in the media industry, where Jones has been a respected but low-profile figure,” he said. “Jones is most definitely not [a celebrity], which will lead to questions about whether she has the star power to attract other stars. If Conde hires her, it will be betting that the magazine’s brand will elevate her own.”
Pish posh. As Steven O. Newhouse (nephew of S.I. and an executive at Advance Publications) told Ember, “We didn’t need a name for the sake of a name or a celebrity,” and “I think she’s fully capable of all the elements of Vanity Fair… Obviously you don’t start out—as Graydon didn’t start out—the way that Graydon ended up.” Among Jones’s champions was New Yorker editor David Remnick, who brought Jones to Condé Nast CEO Robert Sauerberg and artistic director Anna Wintour, and was “heavily involved” in the hire.
The real challenge for Jones will likely not be of the hostessing variety, but rather the one facing Condé Nast as a whole. Earlier this month, we reported on the company’s decision to cease print publication of Teen Vogue and reduce the number of monthly issues for several other titles, including GQ, Glamour, Allure, Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, W, and Condé Nast Traveler. It seems the corporate belt-tightening was at least part of the reason Carter decided to leave his post. The mandate for Jones, again according to Kafka for Recode, is “to reimagine the magazine, its digital properties and its conference business” all while the company “looks to continually squeeze costs.”
Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.