Choire Sicha, editor of the New York Times Styles section, departs in an enigmatical manner.
The fashion world and New York Times insiders were abuzz on Friday following Choire Sicha’s surprise departure as editor of the paper’s Styles column.
“Hello!” Sicha wrote in his farewell letter, which surprised his approximately 50-member staff Friday morning. “Because all is so fine on the desk at the moment, I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to resign…”
Sicha, who will take a new role in The Times’ fledgling newsletter unit, did not elaborate on his departure. However, he seemed to joke that he is actually following the latest “trend” of overworked media professionals resigning.
“I understand that leaving media jobs is a strong trend at the moment, and I apologize for being a little late to the party, but it’s always good to have company,” he wrote.
Now, speculation is rife about who will succeed him as head of the influence segment, which is well-known for its wedding announcements and popular “Modern Love” column.
Sicha — a Times outsider when he was hired from Vox Media in 2017 to shake things up — invited current staff members to apply, since there is currently no replacement.
According to reports, the section’s deputy editors Alexandra Jacobs, Anya Strzemien, and Natalie Shutler are expected to apply for the role.
However, the most extreme speculation appears to focus on Stella Bugbee, who was editor-in-chief of The Cut, the fashion vertical of New York Media, the parent company of New York Magazine, until October.
Only Bugbee denied that the Times had made any overtures. “To be honest, I have no idea,” she said. “That is novel to me.” Her former role at the Cut was taken over by Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner in early January.
Bugbee says she enjoys writing for the magazine and working on New York Media’s television projects. “They keep me really busy,” she said.
This leaves sources scratching their heads as to why Sicha quit so abruptly without a replacement in place. “It’s perplexing,” one insider observed.
He continued his farewell in a manner that would once have pleased readers of the snarky website Gawker, where he served as editor for two consecutive terms — making him the Grover Cleveland of Gawker chiefs.
“Working on this desk for nearly four years was a fantastic experience,” Sicha wrote. “And, frankly, you’re great now. I want to be a part of the shambles. You are not obnoxious enough for me. You, too, deserve someone who is less clumsy. I’m about to embark on another crisis,” he wrote.
However, this seemed to sow further uncertainty among insiders. “The whole situation is strange,” one observed. “Certainly, people are taken aback.”
Executive editor Dean Baquet, managing editor Joe Kahn, and Sicha’s new boss, assistant managing editor Sam Sifton, all lauded Sicha’s tenure at Styles in a corresponding email sent Friday.
The men wrote in their farewell that Sicha “remade the Styles section” with “vigor, playfulness, and imagination, vigorously covering, as he once put it, ‘politics, gender, sexuality, fitness, crime, shoes, and contouring.”
“Now, alongside Sam Dolnick and Adam Pasick, he is taking on a fresh and exciting challenge as a senior editor tasked with expanding our newsletter portfolio,” the letter states.
“Newsletters are both the oldest and newest medium on the internet, and there is no one better than Chorie to help us think about how to use them to build deeper links with our readers and highlight news voices…”
However, there were few hints as to what the new position would entail. “He has not been assigned responsibility for whatever this newsletter section of The Times is developing,” an insider said.
According to one former publisher, the Times is nervously watching Substack, which is signing up top writers and providing them with advances to help them launch their own newsletters. “In several ways, the Awl, which Sicha co-founded, pioneered the style of journalism,” a former editor explained.
However, if Sicha has an inking to share with both his supporters and critics, he is staying silent. At the time this article was published, calls and emails had not been answered.