This morning, New York editor Adam Moss lost deputy editor Hugo Lindgren to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. He's certainly not the only magazine-world EIC to have a trusted confidante on staff. But they're a dying breed.
Used to be, if you hitched your wagon to the right star when you were an assistant, you were pretty much set for life—or at least as long as you could take working in magazines. When your boss got a new job, you came with, often with a promotion. Eventually, it was implied, you'd end up high on the masthead. The mark of a true consigliere is that he (or she) doesn't actually want to be the editor-in-chief; the consigliere is happy in his or her role as trusted confidante and advisor, without having to deal with the responsibilities (and bullshit) that come with being top dog.
But at least in the magazine world, the model is crumbling. With fewer jobs to go around, everyone's looking out for number one—not necessarily number two. And so some consiglieri get stuck in the wilderness. I asked an ex-consigliere why he thought the breed was dying out. "If there are no great editors, there are no consiglieres," he said. Too true.
Anna Wintour's got creative director Grace Coddington, who's been by her side since the day Wintour started at American Vogue. Prior to that, Coddington was at British Vogue. Before that, she was a model. As anyone who's seen The September Issue knows, Vogue as we know it wouldn't be the same without Coddington.
Chris Tennant is now the editor of Fashion Week Daily. But for years, he was former Radar founder/editor Maer Roshan's right-hand man. They first met when Roshan was briefly at New York Magazine following the fall of Tina Brown's Talk. When Roshan founded the first iteration of Radar in 2003, Tennant was right there with him, and came back for Radar 2.0, which launched in 2005 and had folded by the end of that year. Tennant came back for most of Radar 3.0, which launched in 2007, but left quietly about seven months in.
Which brings us back to Tina Brown. She's had a long history with Roshan—he worked for her at Talk—but her true consigliera is Gabé Doppelt, whom Brown lured to The Daily Beast in August as West Coast Bureau Chief, the same title she'd held at W magazine (where she was Gabriel's boss!). Doppelt and Brown go way back; Doppelt was Brown's assistant at Tatler when Brown was its editor from 1979 to 1983.
Then there's Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter, who's got plenty of longtime staffers hanging around—but none, perhaps, as loyal as deputy editor Aimée Bell, who first worked for Carter at Spy and has been at VF in various roles (Vanities editor, Books editor, etc.) since 1992, when Carter started the job. ("Special Correspondent" Matt Tyrnauer also falls in this category; in Toby Young's 2001 book How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, a whiny memoir of his experience working at VF, Young says that Bell and Tyrnauer were so close that people at the magazine just referred to them as "mattandaimée".)
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my former boss, ex-New York Observer editor Peter Kaplan, and his number one consigliere and right-hand man, ex-executive editor Peter Stevenson. Stevenson was originally Kaplan's assistant when Kaplan was executive editor of Manhattan Inc., the business magazine founded by New York Magazine founder Clay Felker. When Kaplan became editor of The New York Observer in 1992—following Graydon Carter's tenure—Stevenson came too. In a cruel twist of fate, Stevenson was laid off by Kaplan's left-hand man, Tom McGeveran, after Kaplan left the paper in June to become creative director of Condé Nast Traveler and McGeveran became interim editor of the NYO.