The New Yorker Crosses Another Line

A few days ago the New Yorker website added magazine-quality material to only the website. Stuff just as good as the stuff in the magazine, but not in the magazine. This is a first for The New Yorker and perhaps for any magazine. The never-before-broken rule has been that the website-only stuff is inferior or at least subsidiary to the printed stuff.

The particular item is humor by James Collins, who used to write for Spy. Brilliant writer. I read his pieces over and over. I especially liked one about friendship (“The Nature of Friendship Today”). “My social life was paying off,” it began.

The New Yorker website doesn’t have a good place for Collins’s piece on the home page. It is listed under “Shouts & Murmurs” but there is no indication that, unlike the other Shouts & Murmurs links, which precede and follow it, it is online only. Well, yes, Jackie Robinson was a first baseman, but to describe Jackie Robinson as a first baseman is incomplete.

I suspect my old editor, Susan Morrison, is behind this just like I think she was behind the New Yorker line-crossing a few weeks ago. Incidentally, the printed Shouts & Murmurs (about a creative astronaut) is very good.

4 Replies to “The New Yorker Crosses Another Line”

  1. I’m not sure it’s exclusive to the New Yorker. There are many magazines that publish web exclusives. What defines ‘good’ is subjective, of course. Just going through some magazines in my head, I can think of the Economist (its Global Agenda section) and the New Republic (they publish some great stuff online sometimes). The Atlantic Monthly, Mother Jones and The American Prospect also might be contenders.

  2. All the web-exclusive stuff I have seen on magazine websites has always been stuff that would not appear in the magazine for either or both of two reasons: quality too low or format not appropriate. Web exclusives are often written by interns, for example. That recent reality show about Rolling Stone interns showed many examples.

  3. Interesting point. Yes, why doesn’t The New Yorker have a place for humor of this length? Maybe it could go in Talk of the Town — now that they’re signed.

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