seriously why aren't we talking about radhika more
Have you had a chance to nab a copy of Vanity Fair’s September issue yet? Last weekend, I spent an afternoon flipping through it and just trying to sink into each page and thinking about how comprehensive and cohesive the vision that Radhika Jones and guest editor Ta-Nehisi Coates and the whole team at VF put together really comes across on the physical page; there’s of course an accompanying Longform interview with TNC (h/t Brady), which you would not be faulted for missing because I mean this is the man’s seventh interview on the show.
But! I found it a deeply worthwhile listen just in terms of TNC’s insight on magazine-making, and in particular, he stops to give what I think is long overdue props to Radhika for spending the past few years quietly transforming the magazine into the kind of platform where putting an Amy Sherald painting of Breonna Taylor on the cover in 2020 doesn’t just feel like some mainstream brand piggybacking off the #revolution. For example, just in the past 12 months, as TNC points out, there were already three Black women who appeared on VF covers: Viola Davis (July/August), Janelle Monáe (June), Lupita Nyong’o (October 2019).
For context, 17 Black people total had appeared on VF’s cover between 1983 and 2017 (<- when Radhika took over — and hey, remember that groundbreaking first cover with Lena Waithe?? Remember when people hated it and literally called it “Ebony Fair”??). This isn’t to say VF is now magically the most representative glossy in the universe (note that the Viola Davis issue was the first time a cover was shot by a Black photographer in VF history). As with any mainstream pub, there’s pleeeeenty more work to be done, but I do think this is all an enormous lesson in that you can’t casually call up Ta-Nehisi to do a sweeping special issue on race if you don’t already have a standing track record to work with.
>> The Media Classifieds:
Struggling with an ambitious creative project? From the author of Daily Rituals, Subtle Maneuvers is a free newsletter on wriggling through a creative life. Get a glimpse into how writers, artists & other inspired minds actually got it done. Plus, an advice column! Subscribe now.
Numlock News is an indie morning newsletter that pops out fascinating numbers in the news. You’ll find great stories you’re missing and you’ll actually enjoy catching up on the world each morning. It’s free to read, no ads and subscriber-supported. Try Numlock out today!
Subscribe to Podcast Review, a free newsletter bringing you the week’s 5 best podcast episodes every Wednesday. Enjoyed by 2,000+ subscribers, including top podcasters and staff from NPR, Slate, and The New Yorker.
A Media Operator is a newsletter for those building digital media companies. Every Tuesday and Friday, gain actionable insights around digital media business models, audience development, subscriptions, commerce, advertising, audio, video—you name it, if it’s about media, we’ll discuss it. Subscribe here.
White Noise is a free, weekly missive that couples fictional prose with nonfictional insight gleaned from indiscriminate reading, listening, conversing, thinking, and experiencing. Perennial topics include books 📚, behavior 💃, and the brain 🧠. Subscribe today!
Kat Watches Everything is a newsletter all about TV, movies, and the internet. BuzzFeed senior editor Kat Angus consumes and discusses tons of pop culture, like getting mad at The West Wing, watching several movies named Escape Room, or just weird stuff she saw on the internet.
Subscribe to How Did X Become Y – a weekly newsletter on topics ranging from how to steal an election to the etymology of financial interest.
>> Want to promote your job opening / pitch call / new project / ecommerce brand? Consider a classified ad. Deez Links and Study Hall are working together to distribute weekly listings to 10,000 hyper-engaged followers of the media industry (editors, writers, executives) through both newsletters. Click through for rates and to inquire.