What Should Hugo Do?

The New York Times Magazine has long been one of the most important magazines in the country, and many journalists and readers would argue, among the most boring.

Now, after a long competition, it has a new editor, Hugo Lindgren (pictured at right), from Bloomberg Businessweek. Is The Times Magazine a great opportunity or yet another sorry bit of print legacy in the digital age?

What’s more, it now has direct competition from The Wall Street Journal’s Weekend section. We asked a cross-section of media watchers: What would you do with the magazine?

“The magazine is far too general interest. I’d position it as the national magazine about the most exciting city in the world: the personalities, the industry, the culture. Everyone imagines what it would be like to live here. Enough with the gray pages of type!”
—David Zinzenko, editor, Men’s Health

“I’d suggest a renewed and very public emphasis on fact checking, to start. News readers are eager for that, and it offers a competitive edge for those who do this.”
—Craig Newmark, creator, Craigslist

“Ask me whether I care. I don’t pick up the magazine. I’d put the reporting where it belongs — in the paper — and let the fluffy specialty magazines with good endemic ad categories take over. Or, turn it into a curation of great content of the week from the Web.”
—Jeff Jarvis, author, What Would Google Do?

“The strength of the magazine is that it doesn’t seem to have an observable categorical style. If Hugo wants to please me, he’d continue to let the writer have a voice.”
—Jack Shafer, media critic, Slate

“Make the design more reader-friendly. The current layout is monotonous with precious few points of entry. Lighten up…Come on geniuses, innovate. Make it a showcase for nontraditional advertising that you can’t get away with in the newspaper. Give it a fresh voice.”
—Scott Daly, chief of media, Dentsu

“My suggestion: transfer some of the magazine’s unique ethos, taste, egalitarian intelligence and beauty into a digital property (not just another damn flat online version riddled with dumb banner ads) that enables audience participation and customization inside those signature tastes and values.”
—Andy Berlin, co-founder, Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein

“I’d like to see more of something I’ve seen in New York magazine, where they’re picking challenging, topical subjects and not being afraid to be a little bit controversial.”
—Audrey Siegel, co-founder, president, TargetCast tcm

“It’s just dull. And I wish they would change the paper stock. The pages stick together. There’s one section I still enjoy: the [Deborah Solomon] interview. They’re interesting, short and to the point. This is what the magazine should be.”
—Barry Lowenthal, president, The Media Kitchen

“The Times Magazine has tried to distance its design from the greater newspaper. I would bring it back. I think you can make it adventurous but still be part of the paper in terms of the content and design.”
—Roger Black, designer (and former New York Times art director)

What would you do? We want to hear what you have to say in our comments section below.

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(Hugo Lindgren photographed by Neal Slavin)

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