Graydon Carter: A New Kind of Fare

Graydon Carter’s start-up newsletter, Air Mail, celebrates its first birthday this summer. Can the beast of magazine publishing crack the digital nut? Interview by Tom Chamberlin.

There is a story about a man stuck down a hole, unable to get out. A priest walks by, and the man asks the priest for help: the priest dutifully throws down a prayer and walks on. Then a doctor walks by, and responds to the call for help by throwing down a prescription. Then another guy walks by, sees the waylaid protagonist, and jumps into the hole. “Are you crazy, why did you jump down?” the first man says. “Now we’re both stuck.” The second man says, “Well, I’ve been down this hole before and I know the way out”.

The parable is pretty good for most contexts. For editors, a vocation in which plenty of time is spent down various crevasses, the guy you want to see walkingby is Graydon Carter. He is the editor’s editor, a graven image of the trade, gilded with so many awards they could have a Wikipedia page of their own. They include 14 National Magazine awards in the U.S.; the Order of Canada; a place in the Magazine Editor’s Hall of Fame; an Emmy; a Peabody; and that most enviable of accolades, the ire of Donald Trump on Twitter.

Published

June 2020

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