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The New York Times on Wednesday named Stella Bugbee to edit its Styles section — a day after the embarrassing announcement that New York magazine had hired the paper’s previous Styles editor, Choire Sicha.
Bugbee’s hire at the Times means that she is effectively switching places with Sicha, who is taking her previous job as editor at large at New York magazine. That’s despite the Times strenuously insisting for weeks that Sicha was staying at the paper, and merely leaving the helm of the Styles section in favor of an undefined newsletter project.
“Stella brings to The Times a broad and ambitious vision for Styles coverage, one that embraces fashion and lifestyle even as it explores issues of politics, gender, power and fame,” said the memo from executive editor Dean Baquet, managing editor Joe Kahn and assistant managing editor Sam Sifton.
The memo likewise noted that Bugbee was a “gifted manager.” That’s an area where Sicha was seen as deficient by critics including Times deputy managing editor Carolyn Ryan, who reportedly clashed with Sicha over his hands-off, freewheeling style.
Bugbee, slated to start her new job on June 21, is a former editor of The Cut, the fashion vertical of New York Magazine, and was seen as the odds-on favorite to get the job by many insiders. Her selection for the top job came nearly two months after Sicha’s surprise announcement on April 19 that he was stepping down to become a consultant on a nascent newsletter division.
At least one said the newsletter gig was a “charade” put out until Sicha found a new gig.
“I think they were talking to her before he got fired from the Styles job,” said one insider.
Another said talks may not have officially started until after the Sicha bombshell on April 19 — but she was a known quantity inside the Times, which had tried to lure her away from New York Magazine four years ago.
“She was always on their radar,” said the insider.
In 2017, sources said the Times had reached out to her before they hired Sicha but she surprised them by turning down the job and staying at The Cut. That’s when, the source said, the Times went to a “bakeoff” involving Sicha, media editor Jim Windolf and Lori Leibovich, who was at the time managing a health vertical for Meredith. The latter has since joined the Times as editor at its Well vertical.
Bugbee, meanwhile, after getting a promotion to run The Cut, stepped away in October and became an editor at large at New York — the exact same job that Sicha landed on Tuesday. “It is almost like two sports teams trading stars,” an insider noted.
Alexandra Jacobs, who had been at Styles for a decade and is one of three deputy editors in the section, was known to have put her hand up for the job as well and was seen as the leading inside candidate. It’s unclear if she will stay at the section or seek a new gig either inside or outside after getting passed over.
“They treated her nicely when she applied for the job, but it was pretty clear there was no urgency in her consideration,” according to a spy.
Sicha, on his way out the door in April, also posted on Twitter that everyone should apply for the job. That was seen by some as a ticked-off Sicha, who formerly worked for the now-defunct gossip site Gawker, creating a bit of mischief for his bosses. “I am sure they were inundated with resumes.”
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