Miller-McCune editor’s resignation letter: ‘I will be a thoughtful guest and leave’

Romenesko Misc.

John Mecklin says one of the things he’s learned in his decades in journalism is the close parallel between houseguests and editors. “The best of them make sure never to stay too long.” After nearly four years at Miller-McCune Magazine, “I’d recently begun to feel – how to say it precisely? – done.”

So why am I leaving, exactly? The last six months or so have been less fun for me than the preceding 37 for a lot of reasons, including – yes – the “creative differences” so often cited in resignation letters. Really, though, I think those differences have been more symptoms than malady. For no particular reason except that the magazine had achieved so many of its initial editorial goals … I found myself thinking of next challenges. And that’s no way to think if you’re a head editor, unless you’re ready to move and take those challenges on.

Read the full resignation letter after the jump.

April 19, 2011
To: The staff
From: John Mecklin
Re: My resignation

I’m not sure getting older necessarily means getting wiser, in a general sense, but I have learned a few things during my decades in journalism. One of them involves the close parallel between houseguests and editors. The best of them make sure never to stay too long.

I am resigning as editor in chief of Miller-McCune magazine today, primarily because I’d recently begun to feel – how to say it precisely? – done. The first three-plus years of Miller-McCune’s life were often exhilarating, genuinely entrepreneurial, sometimes exhausting, but very seldom dull or bureaucratic. From the scary reality of the fall of 2007, when there was almost nothing but a hyphenated name and an extraordinarily general notion of the magazine’s concept, we all managed to work together and create something wonderful: a fresh, distinctive, quality magazine, in print and online. It seemed like every week or two, something astonishingly positive would happen; some journalistic entity of note would laud us or link to us or drop an award on us out of the blue. As you all know, people none of us knew would send in note after note that started, in an astonishing percentage of cases, with words to this effect: I don’t know how I got on the list to receive Miller-McCune, but I am glad I did, because it’s the best magazine I’ve ever read. I often told friends it was the magical startup; almost everything that could go right did, and almost none of the thousands of disasters that could have befallen us ever materialized. I suppose some of the magazine’s charmed infancy and childhood can be attributed to luck; I know a lot more of it was the result of extremely hard work by talented people who cared. I thank each of you for your remarkable professionalism, which made it such a joy to work with you, almost every hour of almost every day. I know your attention to excellence is going to continue, and I’ll be rooting for you and the magazine to do more great things.

So why am I leaving, exactly? The last six months or so have been less fun for me than the preceding 37 for a lot of reasons, including – yes – the “creative differences” so often cited in resignation letters. Really, though, I think those differences have been more symptoms than malady. For no particular reason except that the magazine had achieved so many of its initial editorial goals – had won a plateful of journalistic honors (including a Society of Environmental Journalists Award), had gained a tens of thousands of paid print subscribers and hundreds of thousands of visitors a month on the Web, and had been found worthy by everyone from The Atlantic’s Jim Fallows to the L.A. Times and on to the science-journalism watchers at Yale and MIT – I found myself thinking of next challenges. And that’s no way to think if you’re a head editor, unless you’re ready to move and take those challenges on.

So I have decided that, rather than staying all the way through the metaphorical weekend, I will be a thoughtful guest and leave. I’ll finish up the July/August issue over the next few weeks, with a last day of May 19, for those of you who keep track of such. Between now and then, and probably beyond, I expect we’ll all share a glass of wine or two at least once or twice.

NB – Because a resigner’s next step always comes up: I’m going to enjoy a period of R&R that may last several months and then take on one of the challenges I mentioned earlier. I’ll let you know when details on that firm up.

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  • Anonymous

    This magazine was regularly left in the office restroom by an individual I greatly respect. If he liked it then it must be pretty good. It was. It saddened me to hear about the resignation of John Mecklin. His houseguest analogy was perfect though. I get it. Good luck to you John and continued success to Miller-McCune.