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Monday, February 23, 2015


The Global Issue Cover
Credits: Photo illustration by Matthew Pillsbury for The New York Times. Prop stylist: Emily Mullin. Globes by Replogle Globes Partners LLC.
Editor’s note:  In an era where magazines are dying by the dozens, it is refreshing to witness the birth—or in this case—the rebirth of any decent publication, especially one with the flair of The New York Times Magazine.
To celebrate the relaunch here is a behind the scenes essay by NYT Mag editor Jake Silverstein, which appeared yesterday worldwide. 

Welcome to the new New York Times Magazine. For the past four months, as we’ve been putting out the magazine you read every weekend, we’ve also
been busying ourselves behind the scenes, crafting something new and different. It is as if we have been bidding our dinner guests adieu each week, busing the dessert plates and then hurrying out to the garage to tinker with our strange creation under a flickering bulb.

We have used the hammer and the tongs but perhaps not the blowtorch; we sought to manufacture a magazine that would be unusual, surprising and original but not wholly unfamiliar. It would be a clear descendant of its line.

This magazine is 119 years old; nearly four million people read it in print every weekend. It did not need to be dismantled, sawed into pieces or drilled full of holes. Instead, we have set out to honor the shape of the magazine as it has been, while creating something that will, we hope, strike you as a version you have never read before.

To this end we have made many alterations. You will find new concepts for columns, new writers, new ideas about how to compose headlines, new typefaces, new page designs in print and online, new ideas about the relationship between print and digital and, animating it all, a new spirit of inquiry that is both subversive and sincere. (You will also find, in this Sunday’s print edition, more pages of advertising than in any issue since October 2007.)

In the interest of being clear about what we have done, this letter will introduce you to some of the most notable changes. But first, a word on the design itself.

From left: Matt Willey (art director); Stacey Baker (associate photo editor); Kathy Ryan (director of photography); Joanna Milter (deputy photo editor, at computer); Gail Bichler (design director); Jake Silverstein (editor in chief) reviewing cover options for the Feb. 22 Global Issue.
Credit David La Spina/The New York Times
The redesign was led by our design director, Gail Bichler, a 10-year veteran of The Times, along with our art director, Matt Willey. They worked closely with the talented designer Anton Ioukhnovets, who created the look and feel of these pages. Gail and Matt also oversaw the creation of an entire suite of typefaces.
Gail Bichler

Not a single letter in this relaunch issue has ever seen the light of day. They are infants; treat them gently. Gail also had the magazine’s logo redrawn by the typographer Matthew Carter. It is a similar treatment, of course, but as you can see, the new logo is more modern, more graciously spaced.

It also has a cousin, a short-form logo, which we’ll be using in smaller and more casual settings like social media.

I will resist the impulse to lavish praise on Gail’s efforts, in the interest of letting you discover for yourself what she has accomplished.

Now, on to some of the new pages:

First Words: This column opens the magazine each week with a prolonged consideration of a telling word or phrase. A small group of writers will trade off in this slot, among them Virginia Heffernan, Colson Whitehead, Amanda Hess and Michael Pollan.

Search Results: Twice a month, the great and farseeing Jenna Wortham will use this space for a dispatch from Internet culture, which, let’s be honest, is the most vital engine of culture today.

The Ethicists: This page, which has been in existence since 1999, has undergone the most radical overhaul: We have reimagined it as a podcast. On their weekly show, produced with our friends at Slate, our three-ethicist panel of Kenji Yoshino, Amy Bloom and Jack Shafer will discuss and debate the best way to solve readers’ ethical quandaries. In print and online, you’ll be able to read an edited excerpt from that conversation.

The Ons: In a monthly rotation, four different critics will take up four different subjects — Teju Cole on photography (which is featured this week); Adam Davidson on money; Troy Patterson on clothing; and Helen Macdonald on nature. Each of them can also be found continuing their studies of these subjects throughout the month online.

Poem: We will now be running a poem every week. Poetry is often seen as a quaint preoccupation, but we believe it is a vital experience, particularly when published within a newspaper, where the clamor of pressing timely items calls for the counterpoint of a more timeless note. Our poems will be selected and introduced each week by Natasha Trethewey, a former U.S. poet laureate and a professor at Emory University, who will make her picks from recent or forthcoming books.

Last format change made the magazine significantly harder to read. Let's hope this one goes the other way.

Letter of Recommendation: A blast of enthusiasm, a gleeful yawp of praise for something, anything, that the writer feels compelled to endorse. This week, Sam Anderson lends his support to Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”; future L.O.R.s will applaud Turner Classic Movies and La Croix seltzer. (I am partial to all three.)

Lives: We’ve turned Lives from a column that features mostly written accounts to one that features mostly accounts told to a reporter. This will enable us to showcase a wider variety of lives from a wider range of nations and backgrounds.

Just as crucial to this latest reimagining of The New York Times Magazine as the print makeover is the idea that it shouldn’t be confined to print. In the next year, you’ll be seeing more of us outside the bundle that lands on your doorstep on weekend mornings. You’ll be able to find us on the daily web, in your earbuds during your morning commute, on social media and onstage.

This isn’t an obligatory exercise in multiplatform brand leveraging, as the marketing types might put it, or the beginning of our descent into soul-deadening content farming. (To be honest, we grimace a little even saying the word “content.” When was the last time you said, “I can’t wait to read this Sunday’s content”?) We love the print Times Magazine as much as you do, but we also love listening to podcasts, arguing on Twitter and wandering from link to link through the ever-expanding universe of online writing. And we’re looking forward to more fully joining that conversation.

Starting this week, our website will feature regular online-only writing and photography. We admit it: We’re late to this party. But we plan on making up for lost time. Expect to see our regular columnists in the daily online conversation, along with many regular contributors, including Emily Bazelon, Jay Caspian Kang, Sam Anderson, Mark Leibovich, Julia Ioffe, Susan Dominus and Jim Rutenberg. We’ll also run extended photo essays and Web-only galleries curated by our photo editors.

As for the big feature stories from our print magazine, those will look better than they ever have online, too, with screen-busting photography and design flourishes that will bring the online reading experience — on your laptop, phone or tablet — closer to the print magazine. We’ll also continue to experiment with the kind of bold multimedia production we’ve explored in the past year through stories like Jeff Himmelman’s “A Game of Shark and Minnow” and John Jeremiah Sullivan’s “The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie.”

Finally, later this year, we’ll be beginning a regular series of evenings with The Times Magazine, events here in New York City at which some of the best stories and subjects from our pages come to life. But we’ll also be bringing The Times Magazine to stages around the country, with gatherings that celebrate some of our special issues. In June, our Design and Technology Issue will furnish the theme for a conference in San Francisco; in October, our Culture Issue will become a Culture Festival in New York; and in December, our Great Performers Issue will make its debut with a premiere screening and conversation in Los Angeles.

This list by no means covers all of the changes that have been made; over the next month, even more new pages and projects will roll out of the garage. But this will suffice as an introduction to our ambitions.

Typefaces by Henrik Kubel

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