Breaking: White Dudes Are Running Shit


It’s true — there are Caucasian people with penises who are in charge of things! But these powerful individuals are not simply males or men…they’re dudes. Prepare to have your mind blown.

Here is an article about how editors of major magazines are, in a word, dudes. This does not go where you think it might. For example:

Just a night of dudes being dudes, bros being bros, but there’s a lot of this going around Manhattan media these days. In fact, you don’t have to look farther than the youngish, vaguely athletic, literate and street-jargoned top editors at The New York Times Magazine, Bon Appétit and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. They’re dudes; they’re editors. Ladies and dudes, meet the Dude-itors. These are not the editors who call you “Mr.” and “Miss,” as famed New Yorker editor William Shawn once did – although he did drive an M.G. convertible on the weekend. These guys say “Hey, man” as a salutation. Dude-itors don’t practice lines for lunch at the Century Association – they practice their golf swing in the office, toss around Nerf footballs when an issue is closing, and occasionally play pickup basketball together.

Here is what “dude” seems to mean in this piece: “laid back.” Into pop culture and conspicuously semi-obscure music. What it does not seem to mean: A younger, cosmetically different version of the same demographic that has been in charge of these magazines for basically ever, unless you count the fact that the more recent and longtime editor of Bon Appetit is an older woman. It almost goes there:

“If I can be frank: If you work in this industry, especially glossy magazines, there are a lot of women and a lot of gay men,” said Rapoport. “The notion of being some meathead frat boy working in this business is not very realistic. No disrespect to my friends who are fraternity members!”

Wow, things really have changed if there’s room in the multiculti big tent for “frat persons,” per the formulation elsewhere of Bloomberg BusinessWeek‘s editor. That flicker of awareness in the piece soon dims, though:

“They’re the next generation,” said Rick Stengel, the managing editor of Time. “I think they’re great editors. They’re not the future – they’re the present. In terms of us figuring everything out, they will be the guys who will figure everything out. Or not.”

It’s not that these guys aren’t doing an a decent-to-admirable job of “figuring everything out.” It’s that their chronicling (or gay white dude chronicler — hi, John!) has meant an entire piece mythologizing them with the faintest amused mockery, but without any awareness whatsoever of the baseline homogeneity they represent. (Disclosure: Before Jezebel, I covered media at WWD, and I’ve freelanced for Bloomberg BusinessWeek.)

Plus ça change: In 2006, New York Magazine ran a piece celebrating, if slightly wryly, the new generation of editors of high-brow magazines. After much contemplating of whether they would win over “the blogs,” there was this:

As to what the four have in common, Foer ventured another interpretation: “White guys are still in charge?”

Five years later, three of those four editors have moved on, replaced by two other white guys and one white lady whose name I had to look up.

There are now, in fact, a handful of white women running major general-interest magazines: Tina Brown has taken over Newsweek, Katrina van den Heuvel is the longtime editor of The Nation, and Mother Jones is co-edited by two women, Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein. Updated: And Ann Friedman just became editor-in-chief of Good. Elizabeth Spiers was recently named editor of the small but historically influential New York Observer. As the original editor of Gawker, she has not yet declared war against “the blogs.”

Update: Another way the story could have read.

Dude, Where’s My Magazine? [WWD]
Related: Brainy Young Things [NYM]

Images via WWD

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