Big changes at The Awl today, as it was announced that the Last Independent Media Company was seeking new leadership following the appointments of current co-editor John Herrman, Slate’s Amanda Hess, and Greg Howard of Deadspin to the prestigious David Carr Fellowship at the New York Times. Admittedly, my initial reaction was less than enthusiastic – The Awl’s peculiar brand of sarcastic literary dystopia checks all my boxes – but with time I’ve come to find a couple silver linings.
The Times Just Got a Lot Better
Any publication would be thrilled to add Herrman, Hess, or Howard to their staff, much less all three. They write the kind of journalism that gets noticed, at least by one-man late-night newsletter operations:
- P056: You Can’t Spell “Reintermediation” Without M-E-D-I-A. A fawning mash note to Herrman’s opus “The Next Internet is TV“.
- P076: Comedy, Tragedy, Time and Twitter. Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams but Hess can turn a simple explain-the-teens premise into solid gold.
- P090: Beef in the Time of Medium. Howard eviscerates Jason Whitlock and then morphs into a shining example of platform agnosticism in the fallout.
This is a huge win for the Times and surely what they must have dreamt of when they created the David Carr fellowship. Seeing these writers on an even bigger stage will be exciting.
Seasons Change at The Awl
If I force myself to tamp down the signature Awl emotion of existential dread, I can envision a world where new leadership at the site brings a new vitality, much in the way that Herrman and Matt Buchanan did when they took the reins two years ago. If you weren’t around or interested during that transition, I’d recommend this great interview of Awl founder Choire Sicha on Glenn Fleishman’s dearly departed New Disruptors podcast. It is some super inside baseball publishing stuff but I figure if you’ve read this far why not. And if it doesn’t work out and The Awl goes away, I guess we’ll finally know the true cost of ad blockers.