Marcus Leaving Boston Magazine

After five years atop the masthead of Boston magazine, editor Jon Marcus said today that he'll be moving on -- although it's not known where. Here's a chunk of the official release:

BOSTON – After exactly five years at the helm, Boston magazine editor Jon Marcus announced today that he is stepping down, though he has agreed to stay on as editor at the magazine’s request while a search for a new editor proceeds. Marcus took over as editor after the departure of Craig Unger. He plans to take another job in journalism.

Marcus assembled a strong editorial team, streamlined the magazine’s production process, and strengthened the editorial content. Since he has been editor, the magazine has seen increased newsstand sales, won 32 national awards, and was named among the top three city and regional magazines in America three times by the City and Regional Magazine Association.

Also under Marcus, the magazine produced stylish coverage of food, fashion, home design, real estate, schools, and other topics, and revealing lists of everything from the wealthiest Bostonians to the city’s most powerful women. It ran exclusive original stories by writers including Andre Dubus III, Dennis Lehane, David Nyhan, Nat Hentoff, Elie Wiesel, John Sedgwick, Annie Proulx, Robin Cook, Christopher Buckley, Andrew Corsello, and Christopher Kimball. And it published investigative stories about such things as cheating on the MCAS test and political interference with a Harvard grant to treat people with AIDS, winning a laurel from the Columbia Journalism Review—almost unheard of for a city magazine—for a piece about the sexual molestation of students by Massachusetts teachers that has resulted in legislation to change state laws relating to teacher background checks.

In a brief interview with Media Log, the magazine's executive vice-president Dan Scully said Marcus's move was "a little bit" of a surprise. "I think like a lot of jobs there's a term limit -- a time frame," he said.

Scully added that Marcus "tells me he has several [career] options" but he's "not willing to disclose them at this point." The search for his successor starts at "ground zero" Scully continued. "I'm open to all possibilities."

A few thoughts here.

1) It's possible this is essentially a case of burnout. Marcus is said to be a notoriously hard worker and five years is a pretty long run for anyone in the traditionally turnover-plagued Boston mag environment.

2) The most talented Boston magazine editors in my memory were David Rosenbaum and Craig Unger. Both of those guys also had the benefit of running the editorial ship during good economic times, which meant there was more space for creative journalism. When he succeeded Unger, Marcus, already a staffer, had a reputation as a no-nonsense type who could make the trains run on time. He grew into the job, but the magazine never seemed inspired under his stewardship.

3) Given the generally sad economic state of the print media these days, this could be a coveted job that generates a lot of interest if Scully is serious about conducting what he calls "a nationwide search" for a replacement.

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