Four Questions With New York‘s Will Leitch

will090308.jpgThree months ago, Will Leitch left his home at Deadspin to join Adam Moss’ New York juggernaut. Now that Leitch’s figured out his new job, we thought we’d ask him some questions about the difference between his old and new employers, his love of editors and who makes a better boss, Moss or Nick Denton. We’ll let you guess which question he dodged.

1) How’s life different now that you’re a contributing editor at New York? Are you typing on a gold-plated keyboard? I imagine you’ll say something like “it’s all writing,” which I bet would be my answer as well, but there have to be a couple differences.

I’ll have you know that here at New York, they do a custom design of your keyboard, depending on the personality of the writer. I’m proud to say that my keyboard is breaded, with macaroni. Honestly, the writing is pretty much the same, but the lifestyle’s definitely different. Three main reasons:

1. I am surrounded by freakishly intelligent people. Considering I worked alone in my apartment for three years, this is a considerable difference. If I have a question about word choice, reportorial technique or just the proper way to shoot a moose in the face and benefit politically, somewhere around here knows. It’s an honor to be able to write for the same publication as Adam Sternbergh, as Emily Nussbaum, as John Heilemann, as Kurt Anderson, as Sam Anderson, as David Edelstein. I mean, I write for the same place as them! Me! I still find this quite exciting.

Reasons 2, 3 and so much more after the jump.


2. I loved my time at Deadspin, and I still miss it. (Which is why I’m lucky that AJ [Daulerio, Deadspin’s new editor] — who’s really doing an amazing job — lets me come back and play every once in a while.) But I will confess: I don’t miss being out for drinks and panicking that something huge is happening in sports and I’m missing it because I’m a terrible editor and a terrible person and I’m screwing up everything and why would anyone ever want to go to my site and shit I should just go back to Mattoon and work in bagel packaging plant. Everyone always says that working for Gawker Media is some sort of grind, like it’s some sort of sweatshop where you have to TYPE TYPE TYPE all the time, oh no, heavens, anything but that. These people are whiners. They’ve obviously never worked for a trade publication. We get to type for a living! Oh, the humanity of writing eight pithy blog posts a day! I never had any problem with the work at Deadspin. My problem was when I WASN’T working.

3. When I write something stupid, someone lets me know before anyone sees it. I love the world of blogs and will always be a part… but man, editors rock.

2) New York‘s been featuring an increased amount of sports since you signed on? Was this always the plan or are you going to be expanding into other areas?

Well, I’ll be writing semi-regular columns, and I know they enjoy having someone in the office who can translate from Sports Planet to Earth-ese. But I won’t just be writing about sports. Starting off, it makes sense, considering I can fill that role pretty easily, and, you know, I like sports. But I’m still pretty ambivalent about sportswriting as an actual profession, so I’m always eager to tackle anything non-sports-related. Of course, this is a competitive place with some of the best writers in the country. I have to raise my game. The goal is always to get better.

3) What’s the process when you write stories? Do you pitch them to an editor and have to get them approved? If so, do you ever find that frustrating? For a number of reasons, including the fact that you started the site and Nick Denton doesn’t know anything about sports, you had relatively free reign at Deadspin.

Believe you me, I enjoy the process. I loved free reign at Deadspin, but free reign, for a writer, can be dangerous. If you’re not being challenged by another smart person, you can potentially crawl so far up your own ass that you can’t tell when you’re being lazy or just coasting on work you’ve done before. I mean, I’m 32 years old. I’m going to be writing for a long time. Sure, I could have done Deadspin forever, but the goal is not to just type whatever I want forever. The goal is to get better. And that means challenging myself and learning from people who know more than I do. I can’t fathom a better place to do that than New York.

4) Better boss: Denton or Moss? Why?

When you compare them to employers I’ve had since moving to New York, I’d say they’re ahead of Primedia and Jason Calacanis, but behind Dr. Lewis Lipsey of Mt. Sinai Medical Center, the oncologist I answered phones for back in 2001 and 2002. Nothing to be ashamed of there.