Alum magazine editor reflects on life, career

Andrea Wilson

During his time at the University in the 1970s, Gerald Marzorati had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. Last week, the recently-named New York Times Magazine editor returned to the University to reflect on his highly successful career and to impart advice to a crowd of students and faculty.

“At 50, you’ve arrived at yourself,” he said of the opportunity to reflect on his life, which began in Paterson, N.J., where very few of his peers had the opportunity to go away to college.

His parents, who felt most comfortable sending their son to a Catholic institution, supported his decision to attend Villanova, thinking that he would go on to become a lawyer.

However, as an undergraduate, Marzorati did not know where his life would lead. “I was uncertain about everything,” he said. “I was at home with the uncertain part of myself … That was my first inkling of, maybe a journalist isn’t such a bad thing to be.”

He developed a passion for reading and an intrigue in the new journalism. When famed journalist and novelist Tom Wolfe spoke at the University in the early ’70s, Marzorati recalled picking him up at 30th Street station. For Marzorati, Wolfe was “a real live person, proximate to what I wanted to do with my life.”

After graduating from the University, Marzorati knew he wanted to move to New York, where he began graduate coursework at New York University.

He soon landed a job at the SoHo News, an alternative newspaper featuring art and radical political coverage. As he began to move up the ranks to become an editor, he decided not to continue his studies.

He later went on to work at Harper’s and the New Yorker before joining the New York Times, where he has worked for the past nine years. This September he was named editor of the New York Times Magazine.

“Journalism is still interesting to me at 50,” he said of his career, noting that other careers often “run out of gas” for some people his age.

Marzorati answered questions on many aspects of his life as an editor, including the educational backgrounds of people in his business and the challenges involved in balancing a family and a career.

The lecture was the first event sponsored by the new concentration in writing and rhetoric, led by Dr. Karyn Hollis.

According to Hollis, the new concentration provides official recognition for coursework, which may attract more people to take classes in writing and speaking, giving them “tools adaptable to any communicative situation.”

Hollis said her goal in having speakers like Marzorati come to campus is to help “students go further professionally.”

She said she plans to pursue other alumni speakers, such as recent Pulitzer Prize winner Diana Sugg, ’87.