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David Remnick

Since taking the helm of The New Yorker in 1998, David Remnick has returned the magazine to its profitable glory days. A graduate of Princeton University, he began his journalistic[…]

Why isn’t the New Yorker editor worried about what has been happening to the magazine industry?

Question: What rnwill the New Yorker be like in 20 years?

David Remnick:rn To my mind, The New Yorker, whatever experiments occur, the most rninteresting experiments to occur, the ending of radical departure are inrn the writing. To me, that’s where the excitement is. Will we be on an rniPad? Absolutely. I hope we look great there and if people want to read rnus there fantastic. We’re working very hard to do that just as we’ve rnworked hard to have a Web site that’s worthy of the name.

My rnidearn of The New Yorker, as long as I’m there, is that we are not going to rnchange who we are, no matter what the delivery systems are, no matter rnwhat the means of reading us. We are about reading. We’re about long rnform journalism, analysis, humor, fiction, poetry, a sense of delight, arn sense of seriousness when it’s appropriate. If we start giving away rnthese core things because in the short term we somehow think, "Wow, you rnknow, actually three paragraph long pieces, the hell with George Packer rndoing 15,000 words on American politics, or Sy Hersh writing an rnextremely knotty piece about some aspect of intelligence or sending rnsomebody to Afghanistan three times to get the story, or unleashing rnDavid Grand for six months to get a death penalty piece, or what have rnyou." In other words what I think of as the core of The New Yorker. I’m rnnot here to get rid of fiction because I think that not 100 percent of rnthe people read it. I don’t care about that. I think this is a formula rnthat took a long, long time to develop and people want what we do. They rnmay want to read it on a different device soon enough and it’s not rncoming, it’s here.

Most of our readers at this point still thinkrn the best technology for reading it is on print. Those proportions will rninevitably change. How much they will change, I don’t know. I’m not a rnmedia fortuneteller, I’m not a, God forbid, a media consultant. I’m herern to edit the magazine and be as nimble as we can be in terms of this rnperiod of technological challenge and interest and it potentially will rnbring us more and more readers. But, I promise you that no matter what rnform you read it on, the intent is to be true to who we are.

Question:rn The Daily Beast’s traffic is sometimes double that of NewYorker.com. rnDoes that worry you?

David Remnick: Not at all, and rnyou know, I have a lot of respect for Tina and I reject any notion that rnsomehow Tina was completely out of the mainstream of what The New Yorkerrn rnwanted to do. I think she brought a lot to it and a lot of the rnvisual aspect of The New Yorker is due to her innovation. She hired a rnlot of people that are still there, that are very important to The New rnYorker. But any website that’s built around news and what’s going on nowrn and five minutes later and aggregating and churning what’s going on in rnthe moment, is inevitably going to get higher traffic. Certainly, rnNYTimes.com is going to get a hell of a lot more traffic because rnit’s a daily newspaper that’s now not just daily, but is trying to keep rnup with the news in the moment. This is not what we’re equipped to do. rnThat’s not what we are built for.

I’ve been at a newspaper. I rnspent 10 years of my life at The Washington Post. I know what that’s rnabout. I’m not going to, at The Washington Post, have a fake AP,rn and we’re not going to spend all of our energies in aggregating from rnall over the Internet. We’re there to create the core long form rnjournalism that may get aggregated by somebody else. It may get chopped rninto little bits and talked about on other websites. I can live with rnthat easily. People want what we do and the more time goes by, and the rnmore time this technological revolution happens, there’s not more of rnthis. There’s not more depth, there’s not more deep analysis, in fact, rnthere’s arguably less of it because it’s expensive to do. It’s hard to rndo.

So, my hat’s off to a lot of websites. I read them, but thisrn is what I want to be doing at The New Yorker and that’s what my rncolleagues want to be doing.

Question: Who has rnsensibility to bring the New Yorker into the next era?

Davidrnrn Remnick: What’s interesting to me that as unnerving as any rntransformative period is, and there’s clearly, you can’t give young rnwriters, or journalists the advice that you used to 20 years ago. You rnknow, "Go to The Concord Monitor and work at a small newspaper and then rnfind your way to a larger one." That model, it’s almost irresponsible torn rnthink that’s the singular piece of advice that a kind of middle-aged guyrn like me should give to somebody that’s 23. It’s obscenely wrong. In rnfact, the paths into journalism are now more various, they’re also more rnunnerving because where you get paid for it and paid decently for it arern tougher to find. There’s no doubt that in some ways, it’s easier to getrn in and easier to get noticed because the Internet is so democratic thatrn way, but to earn a living is getting more complicated. And I’m rndetermined to pay people and pay people well, talented people well. rnJust so long as we can sustain a model or even a shifting model so that rnwe can do that. That’s the idea, that’s the trick.

Do I see rnyoung people every bit as energetic and as intelligent, with the urge torn rnexpress themselves? You bet I do. And even at some length, not everybodyrn is interested I making a life as a blogger, not everybody thinks the rnbest means of self-expression, or even information, or writing is to rnhave 40 disparate thoughts in the course of the day. Some of that is rninteresting; some I think is really not. There are lots of people that Irn talk to in their 20’s that are really interested in doing the very samern thing in terms of long form journalism that people twice their age and rnthree times their age have been doing for a long time.

It is rnthrilling when we have the chance to hire new writers who are young and rnwho are developing. I mean and getting better all the time and are rntotally obsessed with what they are doing. Somebody like Lauren Collins,rn or Ariel Levy, or Kelefa Sanneh at The New Yorker, who are relatively rnrecent hires. It’s just fantastic and it’s also really fantastic to see rnone piece be better than the last one, and the next piece be even rnbetter.rn I mean because they’re just in the zone of growing all the time. It’s rnfantastic. It’s really thrilling as an editor.Recordedrnrn on April 9, 2010