Clay Felker

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I met New York Magazine editor Clay Felker, who died June 30 at age 82, when I was a daily reporter at the New York Herald Tribune in 1963. The Trib decided to create a serious--or at least good--Sunday supplement and approached Clay to work on the magazine, which became New York. What I really remember was Clay talking about making this Sunday supplement the best magazine in America. We naturally thought he was whistling in the rain. But it was not very long before the New Yorker was very worried.

He introduced the subject of status as news. Nobody had ever thought of that before. Clay was interested in it just by instinct. He was always pointing out what people and what places were exciting. There were eventually a huge number of city magazines, all patterned after New York. But they didn't get it--that it was really about status. All these other magazines have is party pictures and glossy ads.

Clay was so generous to his writers. If you did good work for him, he couldn't do enough for you. He gave me so much space, and he let me try anything. He was an incredible leader in that somehow he would suffuse everybody--the writers, the illustrators, the designers, the photographers--with the idea that this is the most important thing you'll ever do and this is the time to do it. That's what animated people. It's very rare in this world.