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Radhika Jones Tapped To Be New Editor-In-Chief Of 'Vanity Fair'

Radhika Jones, then deputy managing editor of <em>Time</em>, seen at a 2014 gala thrown by the magazine in New York City.
Larry Busacca
Getty Images for TIME
Radhika Jones, then deputy managing editor of Time, seen at a 2014 gala thrown by the magazine in New York City.

Vanity Fair has named Radhika Jones as its new editor-in-chief. Condé Nast, the magazine's parent company, announced the surprise selection Monday.

"Radhika is an exceptionally talented editor who has the experience and insight to drive the cultural conversation—balancing distinctive journalism with culture and humor," Bob Sauerberg, president and CEO of Condé Nast, said in a statement.

"Her experience covering news and entertainment has given her a thorough understanding of the importance of chronicling and celebrating the moments that matter. With her expansive worldview, I know she will guide Vanity Fair's history of provocative and enduring storytelling well into its future."

Jones, former deputy managing editor of Time magazine and current editorial director of the books department at The New York Times, will officially step into her new role on Dec. 11.

The 44-year-old editor is likely to offer a shift in perspective for the New York City-based publication. Graydon Carter, who steered the magazine for a quarter-century, stepped down at age 68 from his longtime perch in September.

At the time, NPR's David Folkenflik reflected on Carter's tenure at Vanity Fair, which "published some of the most accomplished magazine writers in the country, chronicling the worlds of finance, politics, fashion, media, and culture":

"Above all, however, Carter's Vanity Fair has paid attention and, at times, fealty, to celebrity. He perfected a formula for covering the famous and soon-to-be-more-famous that somehow knit together (or alternated between) reverence and exposé, complicity and accountability. Marilyn Monroe, the Kennedys and the British royals were all reliable standbys. An Annie Leibovitz photo treatment in Vanity Fair was a desperately coveted prize by many of the people the magazine covered."

Jones' current employer, The New York Times, expects that her looming tenure could make for a marked change in tone at Vanity Fair.

"Unlike Mr. Carter, a co-founder of the satirical Spy magazine who went on to become an establishment fixture and gatekeeper, Ms. Jones is hardly the gallivanting celebrity editor many media observers assumed would end up as his successor," the paper notes.

"Whip-smart and unassuming, with meticulous handwriting and an erstwhile fondness for Tetris, Ms. Jones seems suited to a new era — of transformation but also of restraint — at Vanity Fair and Condé Nast."

Condé Nast has been undergoing transformations of a less positive sort recently. Grappling with diminishing revenues, the publishing giant has embarked on a round of layoffs at some of its most recognizable publications, including GQ.

But Anna Wintour, the publisher's artistic director and editor-in-chief of Vogue, expressed hope that Jones will offer a positive direction forward.

"In Radhika, we are so proud to have a fearless and brilliant editor whose intelligence and curiosity will define the future of Vanity Fair in the years to come."

As for what, exactly, that future will look like — well, it appears readers will have to just wait and see.

"I need to get oriented first — there's a lot to take in," Jones told the Times. "I'm just really interested in discovery."

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Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.