Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Tina I Saw

Many of you won't recognize the name Tina Brown. Those of us who were part of the "New York media" know it well. She's an icon editor who made a huge success of the magazine Vanity Fair. Then, she went on to The New Yorker to great acclaim. Backtracking, I was never part of "New York media." I always tried to stay under the radar and tend to my knitting, so to speak. Fortunately for me, for a good many years, I was allowed to function that way while working in a large corporation.

When Victoria was launched and it appeared that it was going to be successful, Tina Brown invited me, along with other editors with new magazines, to have our photograph taken by the esteemed Annie Leibovitz. I met Kate White that day, with her magazine then, Child. Kate is now editor of Cosmopolitan. (The last time I saw her, about a year or so ago, she was on her way to an event wearing a huge hat; Victorian, I might add.) Next to me in the lineup for the photograph was Tina's husband, now Sir Harold Evans. He was very complimentary of our cover, I recall. We were all given lunch and then the photo session began. Tina never appeared during the entire event.

Our paths were to cross, however, when Tina Brown came to the Hearst Corporation to create the magazine Talk. There was great fanfare--a party, now ten years ago, that was the talk of the town. It's being talked and written about now because it seems, in retrospect, to have signaled the end of an era. When Tina Brown collected us editors, the point was to show a new crop of focused publications, designed to fulfill the needs and interests of specific audiences. But Talk was a general interest magazine, perhaps in a time that had lost its appetite for what magazines like LIFE had represented with great success in its time. Many of the magazines featured in our photograph that day didn't survive very long. Many of the editors either left the business or moved on to other products. I was fortunate to be at Victoria for more than another decade.

One night after work many years ago, I stopped by the diner near my building on 57th Street to grab a bite before heading home. In a nearby booth was a mom and her young daughter. No one was paying much attention as she tried to engage her child--I believe there were crayons, but I can't attest to that after all these years. She did not seem like the invincible Tina Brown--just a woman, like me, tired after a day's work but still on the job of being a mother. That is the Tina I saw and remember most--not the hard-driving editor, not the composed and confident woman on TV.

In all our journals, there are moments small and heartfelt that seem to loom large as the years go by. This is one for me.


  1. I came here from reading another blog who gave the announcement that you were back with a blog. :)

    I can't tell you how happy I am to already subscribe to the rss feed.

    Recently I found years worth of the old Victorias at a thrift shop and I bought them all (at the price of a dime each). :)

    I have some already in a vintage suitcase but I was missing many of these years. How wonderful it has been to take a few each evening and return to another world.

    What you did for so many of us was to introduce us to that world and each other, knowing there were others who loved what we did.

    As is quoted from the movie Shadowlands, "We read to know we're not alone". I will be reading. :)

  2. Tina Brown has always intrigued me. If I recall correctly, she has reinvented herself professionally, which I admire and see as a very positive thing to do. She appears to be very focused and disciplined, which I also admire.

    Since I once worked in the publications field, my husband recognizes my interest in Tina and other women like her: One Friday after a trying week, he surprised me with a biography of Tina. I cannot recall the name, but it is still in our library somewhere. He'd run across it and the book shop and bought it for me as a weekend treat.

    Thanks for the insight!

  3. Oh my, I do love this post! I edit a small city magazine here in Georgia, but I'm something of a magazine "groupie" who has enjoyed keeping up with the New York media news over the years. "Talk" had so much buzz I couldn't wait to read it. I can still remember a line from Ms. Brown's first editor's letter, and this is close to a direct quote: "An editor sees only the flaws, but she's our baby and she's breathing." So true. Thanks for sharing such a warm, personal side of the legendary Ms. Brown!

  4. Nancy you witnessed a real momment in a real womans life way back then. Thank you for painting this picture in your flawless wordsmith way we missed so very much.
    When the dust of the day settles, we are all in the comfort business. We comfort our families, our friends, our pets...then we reach for your VICTORIA and she comforts us.

  5. Genevieve from the NeherlandsAugust 5, 2009 at 9:03 AM

    I enjoy very much reading the Victoria magazine
    and when they were back I took a subscribtion. I also bought lots of vintage ones on line.
    I love them there are so much lovely stories in the magazines.

  6. Thank you for this post. It gets to the heart of the issue that no matter how much "celebrity" there is to a person (persona?), there is a real person with real trials, real joys, real heartaches, and real needs underneath all the outward facade. And that includes you and me. And when it all comes down to it, we are all just using our gifts, talents, and abilities to try to bring a bit of beauty into our world the best we know how. Thank you, Nancy, for bringing so much beauty into my world through Victoria.


  7. I have to agree with you, Christi, you said exactly what I was thinking.Thank you too, Nancy, from me,for bringing victoria into my life. Valery v.ss@sbcglobal.net