Our Longreads Member Pick: A Look Back at New York Woman Magazine

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This week a debate erupted about “serious journalism” in women’s magazines—and as part of this discussion, several magazine editors reflected fondly on the work of the late, great magazine New York Woman and its founding editor, Betsy Carter. New York Woman was published from 1986-1992; Carter went on to work for O, the Oprah Magazine and write books including Nothing to Fall Back On: The Life and Times of a Perpetual Optimist. She also just finished her fourth novel. 

We asked Carter to share a story from the New York Woman archives, and she chose “The Jogger D.A.,” by Victoria Balfour, from 1991. Carter explains: 

“It was the harrowing New York crime story of the late eighties and every woman’s nightmare: a twenty-nine-year old female investment banker brutally beaten, raped and left for dead in a remote area of Central Park. Eventually, five teenage boys from Harlem were found guilty and sent to jail. As a monthly magazine with a three month lead time on a story that was in the papers nearly every day, New York Woman decided to focus on ‘The Jogger D.A.,’ the prosecutor in the case, Liz Lederer, a young newcomer to the DA’s office.

“Now, twenty-two years later, the story has re-emerged with the discovery that the five young men were wrongfully convicted, and Liz Lederer has been vilified for coercing false confessions from those men. This piece revisits the hysteria that surrounded that crime, and the pressure on the woman in the DA’s office to get it solved. It’s also an example of how, at New York Woman, we tried to find our own take on a story of the moment, and how we gave it the kind of time and space it warranted.

“The goal of New York Woman was to speak to women of the city much as they would speak among themselves. We did investigative pieces, cartoons, reviews, fiction, humor—using the best writers in the city. No topic was off-limits. We tried to capture whatever was in the air and give it a unique spin that spoke to our readers.”

 
Thanks to Betsy and Victoria for sharing this story with Longreads Members.