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Vanity Fair’s next editor may be the New York Times’ Radhika Jones


Radhika Jones William B. Plowman/ NBC / NBC NewsWire / Getty Image
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Conde Nast may have found its replacement for Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter: The publisher has been in advanced talks to hire Radhika Jones, who is currently an editor at the New York Times.

Sources at the Times and Vanity Fair say Jones has been talking to Conde executives about the job. Times executives believe she is poised to take the position.

If the hire goes through, it will surprise plenty of people in the media industry, where Jones has been a respected but low-profile figure. And she’d be a very different choice from many of the bold-faced names that have been floated since Carter announced he was leaving the magazine this year.

Jones joined the Times a year ago to help run its books coverage, reporting to NYT Book Review Editor Pamela Paul. Prior to that, she spent several years at Time magazine, where she had been deputy managing editor and had been seen internally as a candidate to eventually run the title.

Jones had also coordinated the magazine’s special projects, including its annual Person of the Year and Time 100 list projects. Before joining Time in 2008, she had been the managing editor of the Paris Review.

(Update: The New York Times is subsequently also reporting the potential appointment. A Conde rep declined to comment; I’ve asked Jones for comment.)

Jones would follow Carter, who has run the magazine for 25 years and turned it into a magnet for powerful people in Hollywood, New York and Washington, who appeared in its pages and showed up to its events.

Carter himself has become a celebrity, and Jones is most definitely not, which will lead to questions about whether she has the star power to attract other stars. If Conde hires her, it will be betting that the magazine’s brand will elevate her own.

(Disclosure: I’ve done freelance work for Vanity Fair in the past, as a contributor to its “New Establishment” list.)

Whoever Conde does hire will have to do the job without the resources Carter has. People who have talked to the publisher about the job say executives there have made it clear that they will pay their new hire less than Carter, who reportedly made seven figures and enjoyed perks like generous loans that let him buy premium Manhattan real estate.

They have also told candidates that they’d like them to reimagine the magazine, its digital properties and its conference business — but that the title’s budget would be shrinking, as Conde looks to continually squeeze costs.

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