Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Why do American magazines never have actual editors?

The New York Times piece about Playboy dropping pictorials of naked women starts with "a top editor" at the magazine going to see 89-year-old Hugh Hefner to check that it's OK.

In British magazine culture there's only one top editor. That's the editor.

I've never understood how American magazines can have so many people called editor, particularly when the staffs are as shrunken as they must be now.

You generally find the actual the editor is called Managing Editor or Editor-in-chief.

You also find they have no power.


  1. Isn't it like US TV shows where all writers are "producers". And if its a hit, by season two the star is normally a "producer" as well.

  2. And quite often "Executive Producer."

    I suppose Hefner is merely The Gaffer so it needs a Top Person to keep him informed.

  3. What makes you think it's still limited to America?

    At a brief glance, UK magazines who have an Editor-in-Chief include Esquire, Monocle, GQ Style and Wallpaper*.

    At least so far we don't seem to have an Editor Emeritus anywhere...

  4. Surely most national British newspaper editors are primarily cyphers for the owners?

    I don't reckon much would get into the Times, Telegraph, Mail, Express/Star or Independent titles without the express or tacit approval of Murdoch, the Barclays, Rothermere, Desmond or Lebedev. That's where the real editorial power lies.

  5. Perhaps technology has made the publishing of a magazine a less collegiate, collective endeavour led by The Editor than it used to be and content is just e-mailed in and composited on a laptop and that the writers are being given a freer reign within sections.

    Also, if 'media product' (believe me, I don't talk like this in real life) is becoming increasingly niche aren't these 'Top Editors' merely passing down what sales and marketing want from them?

    I wouldn't be at all surprised, either, if these publishing companies have cut costs, fired editors and sub-editors, and now an Editor has to preside over more than one title.

    On another tack: it is clear to me that during the last ten years or so, while reading new books, the incidents in which I give a tut, tut and think to myself 'This hasn't been edited properly' have become more frequent.

  6. Managing Editor is the person who makes sure all the trains are running on time. Editor in Chief is the actual top dog

    I'm a magazine designer in the States and I'm baffled by the art departments at some American mags. Lots of them have a Design Director, Creative Director, and Art Director above a staff of several mere designers. What do they all do?

  7. Editor In Chief has to answer to the Publisher though.