on the cover

On the Cover of New York Magazine: A Handbook for Surviving Quarantine

Photo: Photograph by Jeremy Cohen

On the cover of New York’s March 30–April 12, 2020, issue, a man plays the double-bass cello alone on his roof. Captured by photographer Jeremy Cohen from his home in Bushwick, musician Gene Baker is most New Yorkers right now — living through a global pandemic that has already remade many cities across the world. This special issue of New York Magazine is a guide to surviving the plague we’re living through, with 44 suggestions from our writers and editors for living in social isolation, including dozens of cultural recommendations from our many critics on what to read and stream, practical advice on everything from haircutting to Zoom dating; quarantine-edition Grub Street Diets from Lulu Wang, Samin Nosrat, and Paul Scheer (among others); and essays from staff writers Lisa Miller, Adam Platt, Andrew Sullivan, Allison P. Davis, Josh Barro, and more.

This marks the very first time in New York Magazine’s 52-year history that an issue was produced entirely remotely — from the bedrooms and living rooms (and, for some in two-career, one-bedroom households, bathrooms) of its staff. “We decided to scratch much of the conventions of a typical issue and rebuild this one to suit the particular needs and circumstances,” says New York editor-in-chief David Haskell. “We knew we wanted to make a special project — a cover-to-cover attempt to help our readers adjust to the weirdness and difficulty of mass self-isolation.”

During the first week of the magazine’s production cycle, New York’s art department researched examples of lo-fi printing traditions used in pamphlets, zines, and posters, gathering for daily Zoom meetings to talk through how these references might point to design solutions useful for a magazine turned instruction manual. Meanwhile, “all of the writers and editors across the organization were focused primarily on meeting the fast-moving story through the website, where record audiences were coming to us for information, analysis, reportage, and service,” says Haskell. The result was a mix of material adapted from the work coming out of New York’s digital newsrooms as well as additional assignments special to the print issue. “The entire editorial staff was constantly in touch on Slack and Zoom, and much of the process of ‘closing the magazine’ remained intact,” says Haskell. “The only thing I couldn’t handle, digitally, was the prospect of reading every proof page onscreen, so I bought myself a printer and carpeted my bedroom with printouts, gradually replacing blank pages with finished ones all the way until Friday evening.”

Photo: Printouts of magazine page galleys on New York editor-in-chief David Haskell’s bedroom floor.
On the Cover: A Handbook for Surviving Quarantine