Off the Record is an email newsletter reporting on the media industry in New York City, published by Gabriel Snyder and reported by Andrew Fedorov. If you know something we should know, reach out to us at

Why Subscribe? There is plenty of discussion about the media these days, but most of the outlets that employed full-time media reporters have either cut back or transformed the beat into an outpost in the political culture wars. There’s now a lot that happens inside New York newsrooms and board rooms that doesn’t get much, if any, reporting beyond a press release and a tweetstorm. While that’s bad for media gossip fiends, it’s also bad for the community of people who work in New York media. It’s time to bolster the bonds between people who actually care about what gets published each day and, of course, the politics and machinations behind the scenes that went into it. already subscribed? login here

Recent Stories

A Tempest at T

Hanya Yanagihara’s latest novel has attracted lavish public attention, but the staff who work for her at The New York Times’s fashion magazine say the portrait of her management style is incomplete

The New York Times Subscription Strategy Is No Longer About The New York Times

The deal to buy The Athletic seems to signal a significant change in the company’s thinking about who it thinks its future subscription customers will be

A Reckoning for Recommendations

To those who hoped ambitious narrative journalism would flourish on the open web, the end of Longform’s curation service feels like the closing of an era

What’s Eating Ruth Shalit Barrett?

The fallen star scribe’s nearly 30-year-old journalistic sins were exhumed by missteps in a now-retracted feature in The Atlantic, but her recent lawsuit turns on a decidedly modern magazine concern: television rights.

All the Pandemic’s Parties

How underground nightlife reporters Michelle Lhooq of Rave New World and Brock Colyar of New York shine a light on places where people don’t always want to be seen

The Smiths’ Challenge: A Great Ad Sales Pitch in Search of an Editorial Product

Justin Smith and Ben Smith’s announcement brings back memories of the promise — and pitfalls — of an earlier global media startup. Plus: a digest of our best reporting from the last week.

Who Wants to Be the Next New York Times Media Columnist?

Ben Smith’s departure for a media startup opens up one of journalism’s plum jobs. Potential successors tell us what they’d do if they were tapped next.

Scratch One from the Betting Pool

Our A.G. AI 3000 was just as shocked as The New York Times masthead to learn that Ben Smith was departing the paper.

On the Front Lines of an Insurrection

Covering right-wing extremist violence is creating a generation of a new kind of combat journalist who is at risk both on and off the field

The Way The New York Times Won Its Slack Back 

Once a free-wheeling space for the newsroom to air its grievances, the paper has mounted a campaign to pacify its internal chat platform

The Week Omicron Came to Town

A surge in the new variant surprised a media community longing for a return to holiday parties, resulting in breakthrough infections at BuzzFeed, Insider, New York Magazine, and The Paris Review

The Celebrity Profiler and the Viral Tweetstorm

The fallout over Michael Schulman’s piece on Succession star Jeremy Strong has confounded other practitioners of the form

Do Morning Newsletter Writers Dream of the Hectic Half-Asleep?

Surveying the ongoing battle to be the first thing people read when they grab their phones in the morning

A Field Guide to Byline Doppelgängers

Similarly named journalists can be confusing. We’re here to help.

Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! Inside the Ghislaine Maxwell Media Scrum

Pre-dawn lineups, laggy lo-res live streams, print stars turned podcasters, impounded electronics, frantic phone call filing, hotel room cooking, doodles, and more…

What Happens to BuzzFeed News Now?

After the SPAC, the Pulitzer Prize-winning newsroom is now a small money-losing division of a much larger publicly traded media company

Anti-Woke-Off Breaks Out at Harper’s

Publisher and president John R. MacArthur considers Walter Kirn’s accusation that the magazine terminated him to appease young leftists an outlandish slur

Lump of Coal Arrives for White House Reporters Picked for Christmas Pool Duty

The December rotation for the White House In-Town Pool was announced on the first of the month, which means political reporters learned who would have to include monitoring President Biden’s whereabout in their holiday plans.

Curse of the Byline Doppelgängers

As The New York Times’s Julian Barnes (“Not the British Author”) and a pair of Alexandra Petris (Washington Post and New York Times) explain, it’s not always easy sharing a name in journalism

Wirecutter Union to Return to Work After Black Friday Strike

While the 65-member editorial team spent the holiday with family instead of combing the Internet for deals, the site continued to publish without staff bylines

Wirecutter Union Announces Black Friday Strike and Boycott

Working without a contract since The New York Times recognized the NewsGuild unit in 2019, the product recommendation staff is walking out during its busiest stretch — and asking readers not to shop with the site

Travel Journalism in the Age of Lockdowns

What do you do when a magazine’s reason to exist disappears overnight?

The New Yorker’s Long Battle Over Long Covid

An organized and vocal online community of Covid sufferers made criticism of a piece they viewed as too skeptical a cause of it own

What Nikil Saval Misses After Trading in Editing for Politics

After being sworn in last year as a Pennsylvania state senator, the former co-editor of n+1 has had to adjust to life as a public official

New York Times Unions Return to the Office for a Labor Rally

At the first in-person event that included all three NewsGuild units at The Times, members denounced management for union-busting and called for better compensation

Mapping a New World Order at Condé Nast

A new strategy for the publisher’s sprawling international editions has scrambled org charts and reporting structures, ushering in the era of the “global editorial director”

The End of the Race May Be Near, Per the Wisdom of the Pool

We’re temporarily turning away from the question of “Who will be the next executive editor of The Times?” and focusing instead on “When will the person who succeeds Dean Baquet be announced?”

Remote Control: Looming Back to Office Mandate Roils New York Times

“The company says that one of the reasons we need to be back in the office is for the culture … and many people say that the reason they don’t want to go back into the office is because of the culture at The New York Times

Freelancers Notch a Rare Win as Hearst Moves to Net Zero Payments

After a Twitter kerfuffle sparked by author Roxane Gay, the magazine publisher will no longer ask writers to pay a fee for the privilege of prompt payments

Perpetual Frailty and the Ever Shrinking Internet

Recent image purges at BuzzFeed and G/O Media serve as reminders of the challenges of creating a cultural legacy in a medium designed for disposability

The End of the Facebook Papers Consortium

The group of news outlets sharing access to a whistleblower’s trove of documents shut down their Slack a day after their stories published, while publications outside the U.S. are still locked out and trying to get access

The Ghost of Gawker Past

BDG’s first attempt to relaunch Gawker was aborted in 2019, but a defamation suit filed by its editorial director, Carson Griffith, against The Daily Beast lives on

Please Allow Our AI to Introduce Itself

This week’s big odds moves in our NYT Succession Betting Pool were at the bottom of the table.

I’m Not Tired, You’re Tired: Newsletter Writer Fatigue Sets In

Attracted by the dream of being your own boss and writing whatever you want, a hidden truth behind the Substack-driven newsletter boom is sinking in: it is absolutely exhausting

Union Spirit Erupts in New York Times Newsroom

A last-minute contract negotiation cancellation by management on Monday sparked an outpouring from one of New York City’s oldest editorial guilds, even among “the longtime traditionalists”

TL;DR Axios Wants to Change the Way the World Writes

A professional service for corporate clients is meant to help communications professionals — and the rest of us — think in bullet points and creative bolding

Meet Stanley Chow, the Artist Who Draws All The New Yorker’s Contributor Portraits

“Sometimes, I just don’t think I get enough credit for this job.”

How Time Got Hooked on NFTs

Inside the crypto skunkworks set up by magazine president Keith Grossman, who has turned a personal passion into a new revenue line for the sober news chronicle

The Second Tier Tightens; a Polgreen Longshot Surge

The competition to be the leading not-Kahn contender only got stiffer in the second week of wagering in Off the Record’s NYT Succession Betting Pool

What Is the New York Times Audio App For?

Details about what the new service is — or why they are creating it in the first place — are murky. Perhaps that’s the point.

Farewell to The Believer

Writers from across the literary journal’s history mourned UNLV’s announcement that the publication will cease next spring

Beyond a Shadow, Doubts Mount

Six months after its editor resigned in disgrace, The Believer’s masthead has thinned and its current owner UNLV says its future is under “review”

How Amazon Ate Service Journalism

Tethered to the whims of a tech behemoth, product recommendations are looking less like editorial and more like e-commerce marketing

Kahn Cools, Ryan Rises After a First Week of Wagering

After a week worth’s of betting, our quants’ neural network has spit out a new set of odds on who will be selected as the next executive editor of The New York Times

How Did The New York Review of Books Get $7.5 Million to Buy Milton Glaser’s Townhouse?

One year after the purchase, the publication has yet to move into the Kips Bay property where New York Magazine was born

How a Viral Feature is Made

Robert Kolker and his editor Raha Naddaf explain how The New York Times Magazine‘s longform sensation “Who’s the Bad Art Friend?” came to be

Place Your New York Times Succession Bets

We’ve set the odds on who will be named the next New York Times executive editor; now it’s your turn to get in on the action

Paper Famine Hits Magazines

A pandemic-induced print shortage is upending press runs and sending titles scrambling to lock in supplies

The Case of the Vanishing Job Offer at Rolling Stone

After two years of wondering, a writer learns why a staff position she had accepted was abruptly rescinded

A Betting Guide to New York Times Succession

Speculating about who will be picked as the next executive editor is the media's favorite pastime

Literary Serfs in an Age of Revolt

In a recent novel centered on the underpaid interns of New York’s fanciest publications, Hermione Hoby asks whether a cultural legacy can be simultaneously saved and overthrown

The Feature Creatures of Vox

How is Vox Media making sure its bevy of longform editorial units, now including ones at New York, Epic, The Verge, Vox, Eater, and Polygon, get along?

Jamming the Gates

Guest contributor Rebecca Carroll writes that the legacy of The New Yorker archive’s dismal diversity and inclusion statistics is not just about its editors’ blind spots.

Merchandising, Not Magazines

To find the business logic behind Barry Diller’s IAC buying Meredith Corp., follow the e-commerce trail

Done Climbing Mountains, Arthur Sulzberger Takes a Hike

Retired in New Paltz, the former publisher of The New York Times has walked more than 3,000 miles through the pandemic

Tom Bissell’s Wild Ride from Magazines to Video Games to TV

‘There may be money for writing longform, just not for me’

A Twist of Fortune

Alyson Shontell is not only the first woman to edit the storied business title but also represents a generational changing of the guard.

The Shadow Editors of Substack

A small army of underpaid editors is quietly lurking behind the scenes of the newsletter platform dedicated to ‘writer autonomy’

After a Fractious Election, Will the WGA East Un-Pause Newsroom Organizing?

A divided WGAE Council meets next on October 7

Nick Kristof Wins New Republic Owner’s Vote in Potential Oregon Governor Run

Win McCormack and Carol Butler, a political power couple in the Beaver State, are prominent backers of The New York Times columnist’s foray into electoral politics

When the Journalist Is the Story

Following the cue of podcasts and film adaptations, feature writers (and their editors!) are lately making more cameos in compelling longform yarns

Harper’s Has (Yet Another) New Editor, This Time Without All the Drama

Christopher Beha, the magazine’s fourth top editor in the last six years, is taking a six-month book leave… and promises he’ll be back

There’s No Accounting for Genius

The rap lyric site has been acquired in an $80 million fire sale, resulting in layoffs and worthless employee stock options

The Media May Change but the Softball Stays the Same

Buzzfeed successfully defends championship