The media landscape in New York and across the country changed in a big way with the recent announcement that Vanity Fair mainstay, editor Graydon Carter, would be leaving the company.
Carter has been the face of the magazine for 25 years and has managed to keep his publication relevant while many others have come and gone.
His departure is seen by many as another nail in the coffin for print magazine publishing.
Carter said this was the right time to go:
“I want to leave while the magazine is on top … I’ve loved every moment of my time here, and I’ve pretty much accomplished everything I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m now eager to try out this third act thing that my contemporaries have been telling me about … and I figure to get a jump on it …”
When Carter entered the game, magazines were still a massive moneymaker. Then came the Internet. Over the past decade or so, print media advertising and readership — especially in magazines — has fallen precipitously. As brand after brand surrendered to market trends and economic realities, Carter’s star still shined.
A recent New York Times piece called Carter a “ringmaster of the glittery spheres of Hollywood, Washington, and Manhattan media …” He was also described as “one of the few remaining celebrity editors …”
Both of these are fair assessments. Carter made his mark, and he kept at it successfully, when many of his contemporaries entered their “third acts” sooner than anticipated. But, despite his celebrity, Carter was a print man through and through. He cut his teeth in publishing at Spy magazine, a satire publication that raised a generation of typically-confrontational news hounds. After Spy, Carter moved on to the New York Observer, a print alternative to the standard daily news fare in the Big Apple.
Carter remained relevant, in part, due to his ongoing feud with Donald Trump. It was Carter who debuted the “short-fingered vulgarian” description of Trump that has caught on in liberal circles, and the two men sparred — never hiding their disdain for each other — over the decades. Back in 2012, Trump tweeted that he couldn’t wait “for Vanity Fair to fold, which, under Graydon Carter, will be sooner rather than later …”
It looks like that particular prediction will fall short, and the jury’s out as to whether the heir apparent to Carter will take such a hard line with the President. In the meantime, New Yorkers are feeling yet another major media shift, the result of which may reverberate for some time to come.