Time’s New Editor Looks to Continue Momentum
A conversation with Edward Felsenthal after his first few hours on the job.
It was an interesting week in New York’s mass-consumer magazine world. Four high-profile editors all called it quits in the span of less than a week—Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter, Elle’s Robbie Myers, Glamour’s Cindi Leive and, of course, Time’s Nancy Gibbs. The timing of all four caused a lot of stir among media pundits, and the industry’s underlying tumult certainly helped stir the pot. Whatever the reason for these depatures, the reality is this: these brands will go on with new leaders.
So instead of looking back at four stellar careers, we reached out to Time’s new EIC, Edward Felsenthal, to hear what’s ahead. The brand’s now-former digital editor had plenty to share about his time working under Nancy Gibbs and where he sees the brand heading in a multiplatform media ecosystem.
min: You have big shoes to fill, not only replacing Nancy, who put her stamp on Time in her four-year stint, but also becoming the 18th editor of a storied brand. How do you plan on building on the Time legacy, Nancy’s work and inject your own vision?
Edward Felsenthal: Nancy and I have worked so closely together over the past four years. She welcomed me as a partner the moment I walked through the door. One of the wonderful things about her are the combination of her unmatched understanding of the world, her fierce intelligence and her devotion to Time. She really saw where we needed to move and fast. Over the last four years we have, along with the rest of the team, totally transformed the way we work and tell stories.
The first thing we did was create a 24/7 news operation that now spans from Hong Kong to New York to London every day. We brought in a wave of new talent, many of whom were digital natives, but they came to New York because they wanted to work with experienced Time journalists. The combination of those two assets is what’s driven our growth. We built a video operation from two people. We reach more than 100 million across platforms, but the next stage for us is ramping up how we use these powerful platforms going forward.
min: What’s your first objective in this new role, besides getting next week’s issue out the door?
Felsenthal: I’m going to spend the next week or so talking with as much of the staff as will talk to me. I obviously have some ideas about how we shape what we do going forward, but I want to hear from our team. Our best asset is the talent we’ve built. We have a group of wonderfully experienced journalists with incredibly passionate and creative digital natives, and they’re as smart as anyone on how we can amplify and grow.
min: You have a digital pedigree, but Time is still very much a print brand and one of the few remaining newsweeklies. How important is the print product for you, and what kind of synergies would you like to develop between print and digital?
Felsenthal: When Nancy took the helm we were still a print brand with a relatively small digital business. It’s hard to argue that the print magazine isn’t more relevant than it was four years ago, but we need digital to use its authority, its access to people of influence, and the trust readers put in us to tell the stories of our time.
min: Let’s fast forward a year, what would you like your biggest win to be?
Felsenthal: Continuing to grow the video we do every day across our sites and social platforms, but also working with new partners to develop feature-length video and short-form documentary is a huge growth area. So I would like to see us make some progress there.
min: Finally, you have a big decision coming up—Person of the Year. Have you already given it any thought? Any front runners you can share?
Felsenthal: We don’t play the front-runner game, but we just began the process with the staff. Everyone is invited to nominate and argue his or her choice. It’s a ruckus, a fun and entertaining session. We will do that over the next couple of weeks.