The New York Times Magazine relaunch cover, published on 06 March.
“We feel like Sunday belongs to us,” said Hugo Lindgren to The Cutline recently and, though it might sound overblown, The New York Times Magazine has earned it. First published on 06 September 1896, it contained the first photographs ever printed in a newspaper and has been at the cutting edge ever since. This month Lindgren, the new-ish editor-in-chief who took over last autumn, launched a redesign, put together by design director Arem Duplessis. It’s not a total rethink – as Lindgren told The Cutline, “it’s not like we’re inventing something that's never been done before” but it’s a substantial refresh, exorcising what he calls stagnant sections and introducing “a little bit more of an improvisational, we-just-did-it-this-week kind of feeling”.
Photographically the biggest change is the new three-page photo section, Look, which will run every week. “It consists of a big double truck photo, which runs across two pages and is introduced by a small teaser photo on the preceding page,” says Kathy Ryan, The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning director of photography. “The subject matter is wide-ranging and very varied. The vast majority of the images will be commissioned, although we would run a great existing photo if it is newsworthy and unpublished.
“The first week we featured photos of the largest pond hockey competition in the US by George Steinmetz, and the big picture was an aerial view showing dozens of tiny skaters on a grid of ice rinks etched into the lake. The second week we ran a powerful black-and-white photo by Paolo Pellegrin, depicting an intense scene of refugees pressed together, clutching their passports on the border between Libya and Tunisia. We are actively seeking ideas for this section, so we welcome any pitches photographers might have.”
As before, the majority of the images in the magazine will be commissioned, but will generally be less conceptual and more documentary, says Ryan, who pioneered using art photographers such as Massimo Vitali, Taryn Simon, Gregory Crewdson and Thomas Struth for editorial stories. The redesign has brought back the What They Were Thinking photo column, which features a documentary photograph accompanied by an interview with the photographer plus theer subjects. “Most of these photos are contemporary, existing, unpublished images but occasionally we commission them and occasionally we’ll publish an archival image,” says Ryan.
“For example, in the first issue of the redesign, we published a photograph by Ted Barron in 1985, showing Robert Frank shooting Tom Waits in Tompkins Square Park, New York. The important thing is that we are able to reach the people for an interview, so we are constantly on the lookout for good images for this column and welcome any submissions.”
The magazine doesn’t have an iPad application, but it has pages on The New York Times’ version, and they dedicated space on The New York Times website – Ryan and her team now regularly produce videos and slideshows for it. They’re also contributing to a new blog, The 6th Floor, which is written by The New York Times Magazine’s editors, designers, writers, photo editors and researchers; it has already featured links to Irina Werning’s photoproject Back to the Future and a digital lenticular image by Matt Moore. “The magazine’s mission has expanded with the internet,” says Ryan.
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