Money & Power

Who Will Replace Adam Moss at New York Magazine?

Staffers tell us top contenders include David Wallace-Wells, Lauren Kern, and David Haskell.
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES / BRYAN BEDDER
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After 15 years at the helm of New York Magazine, 61-year-old Adam Moss is stepping down. His departure—which both Moss and chief executive of New York Media Pamela Wasserstein told The New York Times was his decision — came as a "shock" to the staff.

Moss was the longest serving editor-in-chief of the publication, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and he earned 40 National Magazine Awards during his time there. He was also responsible for the development of digital verticals like Vulture, the Cut, Intelligencer, the Strategist, and Grub Street, which reach around 47 million readers a month.

So, who could possibly replace him? Will they come from in-house or will New York poach a competitor's editor? A press release said a "successor will be announced shortly."

In the meantime, Town & Country compiled a list of frontrunners, with exclusive intel from several current and former magazine staffers (who all requested anonymity). Here they are, in order of probability.

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DAVID HASKELL

One media insider names Haskell, former deputy editor at New York, as a top contender. In 2016, he became the editor for business and strategy at the mag, where he's worked closely with Moss on "editorial-based growth initiatives and new business opportunities including e-commerce and book/TV deals," according to a press release.

At the time, Moss released a statement calling Haskell "an invaluable editorial partner."

“David is steeped in the journalistic and creative values of the company,” Moss added. “He’s also an entrepreneurial editor at heart, and that combination makes him the ideal person to work with Pam and me to expand our editorial operations.”

"He's worked alongside Adam, closely, for a number of years," one former New York staffer told us. "It would make sense."

DAVID WALLACE-WELLS


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David Wallace-Wells

The current deputy editor at New York and the former deputy editor of The Paris Review would be a logical choice. He's worked closely with Moss since joining the staff in 2011, both editing and writing about the very timely topics of climate and technology, including his widely read 2017 cover story on worst-case scenarios for global warming. 

Several inside sources tell us he's a top pick. One former New York staffer says: "When I was there, it always seemed like David Wallace-Wells would be the next EIC [after Moss]."

But, as a different New York staffer puts it: "Fingers crossed it's not another white dude."

LAUREN KERN

Before she left to become Apple News's first-ever editor-in-chief in 2017, Kern was one of New York’s most high-ranking editors. Before that, she was a deputy editor at The New York Times Magazine. In a 2016 statement announcing Kern's promotion to executive editor at New York Media, Moss called her “an extraordinary editor with uncanny story sense, taste, and feel for the moment." 

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Despite being based in San Francisco, we hear Kern has recently been spotted in Manhattan. But would she give up her salary at Apple? According to The New York Times, going into tech came with a raise, which Kern would not disclose.

A current staffer at New York says Kern is a definite "possibility, especially since she's in town," but, "it's hard to imagine she would give up the gobs of money she's making at Apple for a magazine that'll likely be sold by end of 2019."

STELLA BUGBEE


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Stella Bugbee

Bugbee has transformed New York's the Cut from a fashion blog into a must-read stand-alone site covering politics, gender issues, the workplace, entertainment, along with fashion. Her name is often batted around when big jobs open up: Women's Wear Daily gave her 40 to 1 odds of replacing Anna Wintour at Vogue; The Awllisted her as one of "10 Women Who Should Edit Vanity Fair" when Graydon Carter left; and in 2017 WWD reported she'd been in the running to lead InStyle and The New York Times Styles section.

Plus, it was reported last year that New York is looking at potential buyers — so someone with strong business acumen in addition to digital chops would be appealing.

"Stella has made one arm of the online properties very profitable and I think that in the environment that they are exploring a sale, they would want somebody at the top who would reassure the new owner that the mag continue to be profitable," says one former New York staffer.

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But, surprisingly, others tell us she's unlikely to succeed Moss.

"Stella is amazing, but really doubt it's her," a current New York staffer tells us. A former writer for the magazine echoes that sentiment. "Lauren [Kern] and Stella are the names being batted about," the writer says, adding about Bugbee: "She knows how to find and nurture great talent, she knows big ideas, but I don't think she's a hard-core longform editor."

BEN WILLIAMS


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Williams has been with New York since 2004, first as a senior editor and now in his current capacity as the online editorial director. He's got a good grasp on the shifting digital landscape—and has been instrumental in turning the magazine's website into a true destination for original content defined by its verticals-turned-brands the Cut, Vulture, Grub Hub, Intelligencer, and the Strategist.

He wouldn't be the first EIC picked for digital experience. Former CNN Head of Social Media and Emerging Media Samantha Barry recently took over the top job at Glamour.

JAKE SILVERSTEIN


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Silverstein oversees rival The New York Times Magazine and was previously the editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly for six years.

But would New York consider bringing in someone from the outside? One New York staffer says it's the only realistic way to replace Moss.

"General consensus around water cooler is they probably go outside," the staffer tells us. "There's nobody inside that realistically could move up ladder and satisfy all the separate fiefdoms."

But, as a former writer for New York points out, "there's such a strong sensibility within the magazine that if anyone were to come from the outside, they would have to prove they are very much fluent in that."

DODAI STEWART

Another outside pick who could fit the bill is Stewart. Like Moss, she's a New York native—and a trailblazer in local and digital media.

She was a founding editor of Jezebel and spent seven years there before moving to Fusion as the director of culture coverage, and, later, to Splinter as editor-in-chief.

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When she was named deputy editor in Metro at The New York Times last year, the announcement referred to Stewart as "the ultimate New Yorker," who shows "enthusiasm for all manner of stories about our city and her commitment to dynamic local journalism."

GRAYDON CARTER


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Can you imagine?

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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