The New Yorker is a bright spot as Conde Nast's other famous magazines falter.
While the New Yorker in one recent issue managed only two full-page ads, the magazine stays profitable from a subscriptions increase and its online pay wall, according to Reeves Wideman's current New York magazine article on Conde Nast's struggles in the digital age.
As with The New York Times and Washington Post, the Trump presidency has been good for the New Yorker. Its "Talk of the Town" section frequently criticizes Trump's antics, and features such as Jill Lepore's recent article on the history of impeachment examine aspects of the Trump administration.
While the New Yorker's web site and digital offerings draw readers, editor David Reminick's print magazine has stayed true to its long-established formula of in-depth articles, astute criticism, fiction and poetry, humor and those signature cartoons. Remnick's covers have ranged from traditional pastoral scenes and depictions of New York life to pointed political commentary. The magazine also publishes one of the best weekly roundups of New York City events.
Unlike other Conde Nast publications, whose copy-editing and fact-checking operations have been consolidated into universal desks serving all, the New Yorker had kept its editing autonomy, according to Wideman. And Remnick, unlike other editors, is independent from Anna Wintour, the famous Vogue editor now overseeing content of magazines like GQ and Vanity Fair.
Even the vaunted fashion bible Vogue has seen its ad pages decline in the digital era, Wideman says. Roger Lynch, Conde Nast's new CEO, came from Pandora, and has no journalistic experience. In contrast to the New Yorker, GQ and Vanity Fair are turning away from the long, investigative pieces that added weight to the magazines' coverage of fashion and celebrity.
Wideman's article draws attention to Vanity Fair's decline under Radhika Jones, the former New York Times books editor who replaced flamboyant editor Graydon Carter. Jones has taken the glamour and pizzazz out of the magazine, critics say, although she's in her corporate bosses' good graces by not complaining about reductions in office space as other editors did.
As the publishing world dumbs down, New Yorker's success is encouraging. Whether it can be sustained is the question.