In May 2014 I sent an email to Seattle Met’s editorial staff. “Before we begin,” read the subject line. I’d just been appointed the magazine’s new editor in chief (its second ever) and though I was 11 days away from officially taking on the role, I was eager to get started. I announced I’d be meeting with each staffer one-on-one. “I want to hear your ideas,” I explained. “I genuinely believe…we can make Seattle Met one of the best city mags in the country. That’s going to require big, audacious ideas. Some of those ideas will work. Some won’t. But this is a unique time to be making a magazine, because what a magazine is has become a moving target. That allows us to write our own rules.”
Over the next nearly five years that’s what we did. We wrote (and broke) our own rules. We attempted big, audacious projects—some serious (telling the in-real-time stories of Seattleites as they learned their home countries had ended up on the current president’s Muslim travel ban), some self-deprecating (poking fun at our industry’s penchant for seemingly arbitrary lists, we cheekily ranked every Starbucks in the city).
These gambits didn’t always work. But they sure did work a lot. Our features regularly ended up on popular curation sites like Longreads and Longform, and on “best stories of the year” lists. We twice won our industry’s highest honor, the national City and Regional Magazine Association award for general excellence—in 2015 and again just last year.
Three of the staffers who supplied many of those initial ideas—and who shared with me their aspirations and dreams—are still here. I dedicate this, my last issue as editor in chief, to them: art director Jane Sherman, senior editor Allison Williams, and deputy editor Allecia Vermillion. So much of the magazine’s success in recent years is because of their talent and passion. And I’m happy to say that one of them, Vermillion, is taking over as editor in chief, starting with the next issue. Seattle Met readers could not be in better hands.
It’s been half a decade since that first email to the staff, and what a magazine is remains a moving target. The landscape around us keeps changing. But that to me has always been the fun of it: Finding new ways to inform and entertain while other media compete for our audience’s attention—how to get readers to binge on a narrative magazine article when their impulse is to binge on social media feeds.
So I’m sticking around, and with a new title: editor at large. I’ll be writing a lot. If I have even a modicum of success it will be, again, only because of the people around me, and only if I repeat the best decision I ever made as editor—the best decision anyone can make when surrounded by smart and generous colleagues—and that’s to listen.