In my typically optimistic-to-the-brink-of-denial fashion, I got along pretty well for the first part of last month refusing to believe that any of this blithering about the economy was going to trickle down to lil’ old me. But if I’d have to name the day I got smacked with the reality stick, it would be January 13.
That was, of course, the day I got the now-infamous email from Shoshana Berger, my editor at ReadyMade, explaining that their parent company Meredith was taking the magazine from Berkeley to Des Moines without her or Grace Hawthorne—the magazine’s founders—or any of the rest of the creative team. (The real story, as I heard it, is much worse than that, involving a moving truck showing up unannounced and the staff getting locked out of their email accounts.) After that, things started to happen pretty fast. I had several stories get held to the next issues and/or suffer severe wordcount amputation. And over the last few weeks I found out that a few of my friends-editors had indeed been laid off.
But I promised to only spend two paragraphs on that stuff, so that’s about all you’re going to get from me on that topic (should you want more sordid tales of the living dead, waste your day here, and good riddance). Because despite those few setbacks early on, I think the last week doled out more positive news in my writing purview than I’ve seen in a very, very long time. (And besides, I’m not worried about the supersmart ReadyMade folks in the least; they published a DIY magazine for goodness sake.)
Before the era of ITE (In This Economy), many of the publications I write for were already shifting more and more good stuff to their blogs and video content, which I’ve just seen get better and better lately (GOOD is in fact one example, as are Fast Company and Dwell). Another change I’ve noticed: Smart publications are sending out emails detailing the changes in content and very specific outlines of what they’re looking for to help us regular contributors pitch better. Every magazine should do this if they know what’s good for them.
In last two weeks I’ve also been simply blown away by the new stuff blossoming out of the blogosphere. I moaned after the loss of editor Lesley Balla at Eater LA, whom I sometimes pinch-hit for, but she’s moved on to Tasting Table, the pretty daily email that’s expanding (yes, expanding) to LA. Also last week, Andrew Blum sent me his piece “In Praise of Slowness,” one of the first posts on Urban Omnibus, which is the new publication of the Architectural League of New York, “to create a new kind of conversation about design and New York City.” I especially love that all the stories include maps of the locations discussed. And the launch of launches is Edificial, a “brutal (but constructive) architecture tabloid,” which means a return of the great Eva Hagberg (my UnBeige predecessor) to her rightful throne as the reigning queen of design gossip.
Today, another good-news bomb. My editor-in-chief Julie Lasky is leaving ID, something I’d normally weep about, except she’s going to become the new editor of Change Observer, Design Observer’s new name and editorial focus. Their expansion plans—aided by a hefty $1.5 million grant by the Rockefeller Foundation—means that Design Observer’s founders (and all of us who wrote for them, happily, for free, in the name of community) have transformed one of those blog things into an honest-to-goodness real publication, something I was told—by a magazine editor, no less—was an impossible feat.
There’s more! A potentially earth-shattering new online newspaper is preparing to launch, with tons of top writers attached, that I believe could outsmart the Huffington Post. And a beautiful new publication, Afar, is launching this summer, to “inspire and guide those who travel the world seeking to connect with its people, experience their cultures, and understand their perspectives.” That’s the kind of travel coverage I’ve been trying to find for a very long time. And guess what? It’s a real printed magazine.