Actually, it feels sort of strange to call Moss just an editor. The word seems rather old-fashioned and constraining for someone who presides over a growing content empire that encompasses print, digital, events, e-commerce and other revenue streams.
Yes, in 2017, New York, the print product, feels as vital as ever. And the Oct. 16 50th-anniversary issue, along with a just-published retrospective book, "Highbrow, Lowbrow, Brilliant, Despicable: 50 Years of New York," serve as vivid reminders of how essential the glossy has been not only to its hometown, but to American social, cultural, political and media history.
But New York Media, as the magazine's parent company is known, now has a revenue base that is 64 percent digital—and under CEO Pamela Wasserstein and Publisher Avi Zimak, digital ad revenue is on track to rise double digits by year end. The flagship NYMag.com website, and its sub-brands including Grub Street, The Cut and Vulture, draw a monthly audience of unique visitors that has grown to 20.6 million—up nearly 25 percent year-over-year. E-commerce revenue is on track for double-digit growth too. The Vulture Festival, born in New York four years ago, expanded to Los Angeles in November and drew A-list participants including Kerry Washington, Issa Rae and James Franco. And New York Media continues to form adventurous content alliances with brands such as Louis Vuitton, which backed Vulture's "How to Navigate an Art Fair With Jerry Saltz," and FreshDirect, sponsor of "Bittman's Kitchen," starring food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman, who joined Grub Street as a columnist in June.
Bittman's addition to the team—along with this year's other high-profile hires, including Olivia Nuzzi as Washington correspondent and Fritzie Andrade as director of video—underscores the extent to which New York magazine is a white-hot media shop. Of course, the magazine, founded in 1968 by Milton Glaser and Clay Felker, has historically been home to a dazzling array of reporters and writers, including Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin and Nora Ephron. But such is Moss' personal stature that the chance to work in his orbit is its own talent magnet.
We'll note here that Brooklyn-born, 60-year-old Moss, who also had celebrated stints at other publications including The New York Times Magazine, Esquire and a short-lived but influential start-up in the late '80s called 7 Days, is pretty much the opposite of what you might expect of a media-world legend. He's gracious, unassuming and quick to laugh.
You can experience his lack of traditional media-grandee bluster via the latest edition of Ad Lib, the weekly podcast hosted by Ad Age Editor Brian Braiker. Here, a small sampling of their conversation:
Let's talk about how your job has transformed in the time that you've been at the magazine. How much editing do you actually do?
Oh my God. [laughter] Uh, well, what constitutes editing is now completely different than it used to be. It used to be you actually worked hard on a given story. I seldom have time to do that anymore. A lot of it is sort of managing the whole shebang and ... having hugely talented, capable people do most of the actual editing.
If you were to start a magazine from scratch today, (a) Would you? and (b) What would it be?
Oh man, I don't know. You know, I'm in a privileged position where I can basically play out my idiotic ideas on the magazine that I do edit. ... The internet has exploded the potential audience for your material. So it still feels like an alive and powerful medium, and the medium itself is morphing, so it's creatively challenging and interesting. I think this is a great time for magazines.
Listen to the full podcast interview here.
See the rest of the 2017 Ad Age Magazines of the Year package here.