Mr. Nelson replaces Art Cooper, whose tenure at GQ has lasted 20 years. The news was announced to GQ's editorial staff today at a meeting attended by Conde Nast's editorial director, James Truman, and CEO, Steven T. Florio. According to a person at the meeting, Mr. Nelson thanked Mr. Cooper for setting the standards so high at GQ.
At that meeting, Mr. Cooper expressed
By selecting an insider, the move signifies that changes at GQ are likely to be more in the vein of a tweak rather than an overhaul. "I want to sharpen service and fashion," Mr. Nelson told AdAge.com. "We're not going to gut the magazine -- we're just going to update it."
'Glued to the culture'
Mr. Nelson, who's done much contemporary music coverage for the title, added that "sometimes people look at the magazine" and find it "a bit nostalgic." But, he said, "I think we have to be glued to the culture."
"Essentially," a company insider said, Mr. Cooper "defined the GQ man for the world" and, in this insider's eyes, Mr. Nelson is the younger version of that man. Mr. Nelson, who is 40, edits such GQ marquee names like Elizabeth Gilbert and Charles Bowden, and an article written by Mr. Nelson on wine appears in the current issue of Conde Nast's Gourmet.
Mr. Nelson met with both Conde Nast Chairman Samuel I. "Si" Newhouse Jr. and Mr. Truman this morning. According to people familiar with the search, top contenders who had discussed the job with Conde Nast executives included VH1 Senior Vice President Michael Hirschorn, who had formerly edited Spin magazine and Inside.com, and Dave Zinczenko of Men's Health.
Mr. Hirschorn, who is vacationing in Jamaica, and Mr. Zinczenko, who is currently in Italy, could not be reached for comment. Mr. Zinczenko, who one insider believed had fallen out of the search process some days ago, had repeatedly expressed to his staffers his commitment to Men's Health in response to press speculation he might be offered the GQ job.