Terry McDonell’s ability to package stories, art and concepts broke through in 1992. Esquire had several experimental covers (a" data-categories = "" data-popup = "" data-ads = "Yes" data-company = "[]" data-outstream = "yes" data-auth = "" >

Books with a view: nine magazines whose editors made a difference in 1992 By Mary Huh

Terry McDonell’s ability to package stories, art and concepts broke through in 1992. Esquire had several experimental covers (a

Hearst recruited Elizabeth Tilberis from the British Vogue to take over a badly outdated Harper’s Bazaar. Tilberis has chosen the high road for the monthly, adding style, grace and elegance to the 125-year-old title. Kudos for bringing in art director Fabien Baron, one-time art director of the Italian Vogue (as well as Madonna’s Sex), whose imaginative use of type has made the book graphically more interesting. The magazine is beautifully photographed by the likes of Patrick Demarchelier and Peter Lindbergh. Harper’s Bazaar has made the fashion category much more competitive and interesting to watch. Now Tilberis must improve the writing to bring her book fully into the ’90s.
The upstart Movieline casts a smart, insider’s eye on Hollywood. But it’s not an evil eye. Co-editors Virginia Campbell and Edward Margulies provide witty, irreverent takes on an industry they clearly love. And to find a magazine that covers Hollywood without kow-towing is refreshing. Movieline has all the interviews you could ask for, but it presents them with personal insights and information that only cultists could obtain. Even when critical of a star or a movie, the book displays a passion that only the biggest Hollywood fans have. Have you forgotten James Franciscus’s worst movie? They haven’t.
Last year, the team of Newsweek president and editor-in-chief Richard Smith and editor Maynard Parker handled the election like no other newsweekly. For more than a year before election day itself, a team of reporters was given exclusive access to both candidates on the condition that none of the information would be released before Nov. 3. The result was “How We Won: The Untold Story of Bill Clinton’s Triumph,” a special election issue out just 36 hours after the polls closed. Week-to-week political coverage was also top-notch, supplied by Joe Klein, Eleanor Clift, Howard Fineman and Jonathan Alter. From the opening “Periscope” to “Lifestyle” and “The Arts” in the back, Newsweek makes a lively, informative read.
For Andrew Sullivan, his arrival at The New Republic last year was the fight place, right time. And the right candidate, right country of origin, right sexual preference. The young British gay conservative was one of a pack of editors brought from overseas to jump-start books.
Sullivan and The New Republic’s talented stable of political reporters and columnists hailed Clinton early and often, a gamble that has paid off handsomely with their man now in the White House. Sullivan’s assertive stance on gay issues also plays into a ’90s hot topic. One worry: the unwealthy magazine continually loses its top talent to big books.
When it was announced in June that Tina Brown would move from Vanity Fair to The New Yorker, the news made the front page of The New York Times. The momentum hasn’t stopped. Brown took charge, changing the magazine’s once-ponderous pace by adding shorter articles next to long ones. She cut fiction back to an average of one piece per issue, expanded the contents page, added subtitles, color and even photographs, with Richard Avedon named staff photographer. To date, Brown has brought excitement–and no small amount of purposely sought-after controversy–to a magazine that a lot of magazine fans had chosen to forget about.
Brown says she’s harking back to the days of rounding editor Harold Ross, remaining true to the spirit of The New Yorker even as she overhauls it. Whether one likes the new New Yorker or not, it’s truly the talk of the town.
When Spy secured new ownership in 1991, the magazine suddenly had a lot more money for investigative journalism. Editor Kurt Andersen went to work in 1992, and the effort paid off in spades. Spy broke ground with such articles as “Gag Rule,” about why two women didn’t testify against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, and its infamous cover story, “1000 Reasons Not to Vote for George Bush: No. 1 He Cheats on His Wife.” The no-attributed-quotes article detailed Bush’s alleged womanizing and springboarded Spy into the national press. Along with a year’s worth of hilarious covers (Woody Allen and Fergie in bed, Madonna paint-by-numbers, and Pat Buchanan, “the sexiest man alive,” in his underwear), the magazine topped itself by distributing fake copies of The New York Times at the Democratic convention. Spy hasn’t lost its satirical edge as it’s added more serious pieces. But it will have to go forth into 1993 sans Andersen, who is moving to Time as editor-at-large.
The television industry is in the throes of historic changes, with the broadcast and cable landscape barely recognizable from year to year. Anthea Disney, named editor-in-chief of TV Guide in September 1991, has taken the opportunity to redo the Murdoch magazine. Her result is, simply, readable. She added the first indepth interview to TV Guide, bringing in Jeff Jarvis, founder of Entertainment Weekly, to do his “Couch Critic” column. Other tidbits for the TV junkie now include “What I Watch” (a celeb’s take on shows), “Ask TV Guide,” “Our Times” (a column about values and TV), and a style section. A veteran of many types of media–Us, Self, New York Daily News, A Current Affair Disney is trying to recast a dull listings guide into a provocative, interesting, in-the-know editorial book.
For the past year and a half, Ian Birch has had the difficult task of changing Us magazine from a weekly to a monthly. Under new owner Jann Wenner, he’s also shed its pale People image and remade Us as an entertainment vehicle. Birch has emphasized young Hollywood stars, from Shannen Doherty and Luke Perry to Tom Cruise and Grant Show. Us has become legit within the entertainment industry; Birch now has to make it a legit book with the vast entertainment audience in the United States.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)