The Big Announcement
You can imagine how exciting an event this is for people here. John is respected far and wide in the field of audio journalism, and is credited for establishing HFN/RR as the premier audio journal of the English-speaking world. (I feel it's the best in any language.) John is also an acute commentator on audio equipment, a recording enthusiast, a devoted concert-goer, and a helluva nice guy. In short, I can't believe our good fortune.
But, you might ask, what will John's Stereophile duties be, and how will that affect J. Gordon Holt—who, after all, is and has been the heart and soul of Stereophile for 24 years? JGH answers that question from his point of view (below), but as far as I'm concerned J. Gordon has the best ears in audio, and his judgments hew closest to the sound of live music. In that respect, he simply can't be replaced.
Basically, John will take over the job that I have had: as Managing Editor, he will arrange for equipment to review, commission articles, deal with articles on hand (copy editing, proofreading, preparation for typesetting), and conduct much of the magazine's relationship with manufacturers. As International Editor, his extensive contacts among European journalists will add to the reviewing expertise we already possess.
Stereophile's ability to incorporate such a formidable audio personality will be a test, and I eagerly anticipate it.—Larry Archibald
J. Gordon Holt on "Grist From the Rumor Mill"
During the past few weeks, I have received a number of phone calls from concerned citizens asking how I feel about being replaced as editor of Stereophile. My reply has been "I don't know—and won't know until I am faced with the prospect of actually being replaced." Rumors, especially mistaken ones, travel like wildfire in audio circles.
I can see how this one got started, though. We are pleased to announce a new addition to our staff: John Atkinson, currently Editor of Britain's Hi-Fi News. Larry Archibald asked him if he would like to join Stereophile, and, after due consideration, John agreed. Within days, word went out on the audio grapevine that Stereophile had hired a new editor, which was true. With that word went a question: What about the old Editor? No magazine has more than one Editor, right? Not so.
In fact, most magazines, have many editors. They are listed, in every issue, in the masthead. But, since mastheads make about as interesting reading as the Toledo telephone directory, few readers ever give them a passing glance.
If you had, you would have observed that they always list one person whose title is "Editor," pure and simple. He or she is the Editor, el supremo chiefo, le personnage premier d'editoriale. (I am Stereophile's, in case you hadn't noticed.) The Editor is the magazine's one-man steering committee, whose primary responsibility is to see that everything appearing in the magazine conforms to its editorial policy—also called the party line—as spelled out by the Publisher, whose word is the Law. (JGH considers himself exceedingly fortunate that LA agrees with him about practically everything except time-and-a-half for loafing and dissipation, where there appears to be no hope for compromise.) The Editor okays articles for publication, blue-pencils shabby copy, checks material for accuracy, and generally makes things as difficult as possible for contributors.
Some magazines have an Executive Editor. His job is to commit the entire party line to memory and use it to browbeat all the other editors about violations; Executive Editors tend to be lonely people.
Most magazines call their regular contributors Contributing Editors, but they aren't really. They don't edit anything, including their own copy; the title merely compensates for the poor pay.
Then there's the Managing Editor. As the name implies, this is largely an executive position; the Managing Editor does not specialize in executing tasks or recalcitrant underlings, but in managing things. The ME is an organizer: he sets schedules, coordinates the efforts of independent contractors, and sees that everything comes together on that day of reckoning for all publications—press deadline. That is the formidable task facing our newly acquired JA, who has my sympathies. He has to get this (up-till-now) disorganized editorial office running smoothly, automatically, by the numbers, and right on schedule. (I just wanted to let you know we're all rooting for you, John!)
Of course, we aren't going to let him off the hook all that easily—if we had just wanted an organizer, we could have hired a Department Manager from a local bank, or bought a DayTimer. John has what we consider a hell of a good track record in audio: he took England's best audio publication and made it into what is arguably the best in the English-speaking world. (Yes, I feel that in many ways, HFN/RR is better than anything we have in the US—including Stereophile. There, I've said it. So sue me.!) He's a superb writer (English scooling!), an avid and knowledgeable audiophile, a genuine music nut, and a skilled listener with an uncommon ability to describe what he hears. He's also very good company.
I'm not sure how I feel about being organized, though. I love to complain, and disorganization provides endless problems to complain about. But Larry Archibald? Now he needs organizing. LA has been so disorganized he's been working 12 hours a day trying to do what he refused (until recently) to recognize as two jobs: Publisher and Managing Editor. As a result, he was often tired and irritable, and when LA irritates, he scratches everyone around him—including me. People, I would like to introduce John, our new emollient.
How do I really feel about our new Editor? Just ask me.—J. Gordon Holt