Award-winning Texas Monthly editor and University of Texas at Austin grad Jake Silverstein is the new editor-in-chief at The New York Times Magazine, the paper announced today, after a search that took months. Following the departure of previous editor Hugo Lindgren, Times brass called for “more than a new editor,” but a rethinking of how the Sunday magazine “can be the most distinctive, edifying, pleasurable part of our news offerings.” Silverstein, then, is the left-field pick that will lead a redesign, “making it more beguiling, displaying more of the best riches of The Times,” the company said in a memo.
“The magazine needs to become more part of the life of the paper,” said managing editor Dean Baquet, who led the search. “The editor needs to be much more of a visible presence in the newsroom and be in on the discussions of how we cover the big stories of the day.”
Silverstein has held the top job at Texas Monthly, a well-regarded magazine centered far from Manhattan, since 2008, and has collected 12 National Magazine Awards nominations and two wins, including the general excellence prize. “Texas is a place in which people have independence and and huge ambitions of what they’re going to do in the world,” he told the Times in a welcome interview. “And that describes the platonic ideal of New York as well.”
Here’s the full memo from Baquet and executive editor Jill Abramson:
We are pleased to announce that Jake Silverstein, editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly for the past six years, will become the next editor of The New York Times Sunday Magazine.
During Jake’s tenure, Texas Monthly has been known for its literary narratives and ambitious journalism. Under his leadership, the magazine received twelve National Magazine Award nominations and won four times, once for General Excellence, once for Public Interest, and twice for Feature Writing. One of those feature writing awards recognized a two-part series on a man wrongly accused of murder. Jake also knows the tasty pleasures of magazines; this week Texas Monthly was nominated for a National Magazine Award for a story on the 50 Best Barbecue Joints in the world.
This announcement is about more than a dynamic new leader. Jake’s appointment signals a rethinking of the Magazine. It will be more fully integrated in the newsroom and will play a significant role in the big news stories of the day. We will add staff, including some of our best writers and provocative voices. The Magazine will be redesigned, making it more beguiling, displaying more of the best riches of the Times. The traditional magazine forms will continue — narratives, deep profiles, investigative reporting, essays, photography — and others will be invented. We will also begin to engage readers in a more active, on-going dialogue through social media and other means.
Jake will work closely with Matt Purdy and others in the newsroom on determining the best ways to give readers consistently rich and powerful multi-media storytelling on a variety of platforms.
This builds on the Times leadership in storytelling, multimedia innovation, and the fine work the magazine and the paper have done over the years.
Before taking over Texas Monthly, Jake was a reporter for the Big Bend Sentinel in Marfa, Texas, a Fulbright Scholar, and a contributing editor for Harper’s. His own stories have appeared in Best American Travel Writing, and he is the author of a collection entitled “Nothing Happened And Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact And Fiction.”
—Jill and Dean