In the 45 years since New York was born out of the embers of the dying New York Herald-Tribune, the magazine has reported on waves and waves of change: to the city, to our larger culture and politics, even to magazines themselves. One of the more interesting changes (to us, anyway; but then it is our business) is the speed, or speeds, at which we live—and get our news and consume our entertainment and formulate and then reformulate our ideas about the world. In the age of Twitter and WhatsApp, it’s pretty obvious that information is coursing faster. But it’s also slowing down. We share videos on Vine that last six seconds. But we’ll also devote dozens of hours, unfolding over multiple seasons, to a single big story on television; some shorter stories don’t even seem worth our time. We like our speeds varied.
Over the last few years, we’ve done a lot of accelerating at New York, launching four digital magazines that deliver news and commentary at an insane pace, responding instantly to whatever the culture is serving up. There’s Daily Intelligencer for news and politics, Vulture for entertainment, the Cut for fashion and more, and Grub Street, our everything-gastro digest. Beginning this spring, there’ll be a fifth, called the Science of Us, devoted to exploring the science (clinical and speculative) of human behavior.
But even as we speed up online, we’re doing the opposite in print. You may have heard that we are moving from publishing weekly to publishing biweekly. Well: This is it. (Though, technically, we weren’t really weekly, and we’re not precisely biweekly now. We’ll be moving from 42 issues per year to 29—that’s 26 biweekly issues, plus three single-topic “bonus” issues, on health, food, and gifts.)
Some of the reasons for the change are, yes, economic—a weekly is killer-expensive to make. But we also think of it as a natural response to the bifurcated way people like to read—in rawer form immediately and in more cooked iterations over time. Our sincere belief is that we can make a better magazine this way, one that feels just as urgent as ever but is more alive to all the magical properties, and possibilities, of print—all those design flourishes and writerly ambitions and sensory experiences that devoted readers of magazines cherish.
This isn’t an overhaul or a redesign or a relaunch, by any means. But it does reflect a rethinking of what we do, and what might make a biweekly different from a weekly. The great stuff that print does so well is, we hope, on display in this issue (and will be, God willing, in every one after it). There is more visual storytelling and more lavish photography—in this issue, a photographic diary of the musician St. Vincent we’re calling “Life in Pictures,” two frames of a still-glamorous Catherine Deneuve, and an unsettling self-portrait series by a photographer addicted at the time to heroin. We’re introducing a rotation of columnists, two in every issue, this time on politics and sex and in future issues on technology, Hollywood, and sports. In this format, there is more opportunity for depth (see, for example, Benjamin Wallace-Wells’s immersive report on a California prison protest that began with four men in isolation and has shaken the entire premise of solitary confinement). The magazine will endeavor to be more tactile than it’s ever been, with textured pages and foldouts from time to time, like the one art critic Jerry Saltz put together for this issue offering walking tours of his favorite artworks to see in the city. And more durable, too, with each page and piece designed to try to earn return trips from your bed stand or a place on your refrigerator (there’s a reason we called Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld’s encyclopedic guide to cheese right now a “Keeper”). Some readers may miss a couple of features we’ve dropped because we thought they’d run their course. But in just about every way, the new biweekly New York will be simply more New York, and more magazine: more and deeper features in every section, more crossword puzzles (two! Plus the return of the “Competition”), more pictures and drawings, more print. And a whole new section, “The Cut,” with some of the beautiful work we publish on the eponymous web magazine, translated and adorned for the opulence of paper.
Of course, the new magazine is still very much a work in progress; even as we’re closing this issue, we can already see what we want to change in the next. And no doubt you’ll tell us what else we’ve done wrong. But please, do not worry about the fate of “The Approval Matrix”: It will surely outlast us all.
P.S.: Speaking of speeds, we are happy to report that two books that began as magazine articles in New York, Gabriel Sherman’s The Loudest Voice in the Room and Jennifer Senior’s All Joy and No Fun, are both sitting on the best-seller lists. And another book by a New York staff writer, Daily Intelligencer’s Kevin Roose, Young Money, has just been published and is coming on strong.