WSJ Magazine Editor Kristina O’Neill Steps Down

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Updated on April 28

Kristina O’Neill, the editor in chief of WSJ, the Wall Street Journal’s magazine insert, revealed Thursday morning that she will depart this summer. She did not reveal her future plans. But sources tell WWD that Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Emma Tucker, who was installed in the top job last December, will be looking for a new editor to lead the magazine. The timing for hiring a new editor is unclear, but O’Neill will depart in the summer.

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She joined the magazine in 2012, overseeing its relaunch as a culture and fashion title available to Journal subscribers. She was the third editor of the magazine, which launched in 2008 as part of Rupert Murdoch’s effort to transform the Journal into a national general-interest publication — and compete directly with The New York Times. O’Neill introduced a new logo (in the Journal’s austere Escrow font), and set about recruiting bold-faced names to moonlight as columnists (Karl Lagerfeld, Dwyane Wade, Marina Abramovic were rendered in trademark Journal stipple hedcuts).

More recently, O’Neill and Style news editor Sarah Ball oversaw the addition of a fully staffed style news desk created to cover breaking industry news.

“The beauty of long-lead magazine making is that we sort of have time,” O’Neill told WWD during an interview last fall marking her decade at the title, which appears in print nine times a year. “We work far in advance and everything is very beautifully, thoughtfully curated. But we were kind of missing that nimbleness. The goal was to create a desk that could react more quickly to things and cover things in the here and now.”

O’Neill also led the selection and planning for the magazine’s annual Innovator Awards, which includes multiple cover runs and a star-studded event in Manhattan. Last year’s awards honored Brazilian singer AnittaSaint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello, architect Jeanne Gang, artist Jenny Holzer, product designer Jony Ive, actors and producers Margot Robbie and Maya Rudolph and World Central Kitchen and its founder José Andrés.

O’Neill’s impending exit was conveyed to WSJ staffers in a Thursday morning email from Tucker, a former Sunday Times of London editor who was hand-picked by Murdoch.

“From unmatched editorial to attracting new advertisers and revenue growth via partnerships with powerhouse brands, Kristina had a direct hand in the Journal’s digital expansion and new audience engagement, broadening our lens on the intersection of fashion, lifestyle and business,” wrote Tucker.

In the same email, Robert Thomson, chief executive officer of WSJ parent News Corp., lauded O’Neill’s transformation of “the magazine into a global aesthetics icon and her profound influence will continue to resonate within the WSJ and far beyond.”

The magazine, which this year will publish nine issues, is profitable, according to industry sources. The announcement of O’Neill’s departure caught the staff of the magazine off guard, though it’s being interpreted internally as an effort on the part of a new editor to build her own team. A representative for the WSJ did not respond to questions about O’Neill’s possible successor or whether there will be additional staff departures.

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