All Hands on Deck

3 minute read

Before taking my current job as deputy editor last December, I had never been a full-time editor. I was a writer. And being a writer with TIME, no matter what they tell you, is essentially a solitary endeavor. You close the door. You face the blank screen. You write the story. There are advantages and disadvantages to this: if the piece is successful, you get most of the kudos, but if it’s a flop, deemed not publishable by the editors, you may try to blame changing news, poor reporting, bad photos, but deep down you know it was your fault.

My transition to editor has meant subsuming that individualistic approach to the best interests of our team. For publishing TIME is a team effort, provoking infrequent — well, sometimes frequent — dissent, disagreement, backstabbing and petty jealousy that all such collectives entail. But TIME, I believe, has a winning team, one that overcomes those inevitable family feuds to produce a startlingly (for those of us who work here, anyway) excellent magazine.

Producing this issue, our Asian Voyage special, pushed us to our limits. Why is the story late? Where are the photos? When will the layouts be ready? These questions, in the hothouse atmosphere of putting together a magazine on deadline, can seem loaded and accusatory. And are sometimes intended to. As I watched our reporters, writers, editors, photographers, photo editors, designers and production team do their jobs, I began to wonder why it is they don’t just resign when the office conversation becomes the adult equivalent of schoolyard taunts.

They don’t quit because they know how to rein in their egos and vanities to realize this magazine. They are forgiving of one another’s bad tempers. They overlook each other’s flaws. They are generous with their time and counsel.

Particularly heroic in this endeavor were photo editors Lisa Botos, Barbara Herrmann, Jolie Muller and Lilas Koo who produced a lavishly illustrated package. Art directors John White, Cecelia Wong and Yuki Endo created effective, evocative layouts. Chi-Wing Cham, Queenie Kuk Wah Cheung and Ka-Kui Kwok put in yeoman’s hours getting those pages ready for printing. And special issues editor Susan Hornik piloted this crew through sometimes choppy waters. Every page of this issue, our retracing of the 15th century Chinese Admiral Zheng He’s historic Asian sea voyages, is really a tribute to their grace.

I am learning from them.

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