The Monday Media Diet with Nick Catucci
On the Village Voice, Rhode Island, and Libby
Nick Catucci (NC) is the newsletter editor for the Atlantic and also runs WITI fav Embedded. He’s a longtime NYC music, media and culture fan, and we are super happy to have him on the page today. (CJN)
Tell us about yourself.
I'm a Brooklyn dad who works at The Atlantic as the newsletter editor. On the side, the writer Kate Lindsay and I publish Embedded, a newsletter about the internet. (In 2020, before Embedded, Kate and I launched a website about the internet for a startup, and now she also works with me at The Atlantic. We have logged many Zoom hours.)
My wife Leah Carroll also recently became a newsletter editor. (Subscribe to Sidekick!) But she published an acclaimed memoir, Down City, and wrote and hosted an investigative podcast, Hemingway's Picasso, and I've done nothing like that, so.
I was swept up in the early days of online media—my first job was editing the Village Voice website, and in my second, I helped launch Vulture and the other web brands at New York magazine—and so I have a lot of experience "building" and "scaling." There have been low moments ... I've pandered to K-pop armies, and I once studied the Upworthy deck very closely. But I believe in newsletters. They have the best incentives of any media format: You have to win and keep your relationship with each reader.
I've been lucky enough to surf the media industry churn all this time, and if nothing else, it's kept me fresh. So has my experience covering music and the internet, which if you really try to keep up with them, will make your mind molt.
Describe your media diet.
I'm a reader. I don't really listen to podcasts or watch cable news. Instead, I'm usually listening to music or watching Seinfeld or Better Call Saul. Or smoothing my brain with TikTok.
My brilliant newsletter writers are filing a few pieces every day, on war, politics, law, literature, entertainment, the discourse, and more, magnifying this incredible range of issues and ideas with such clarity and commitment. You could not ask for a better project as an editor. And it's a pleasure keeping up with the rest of The Atlantic, which is so vibrant and ambitious. I cried at my desk reading Caitlin Dickerson's 30,000-word cover story on the Trump administration's horrendous child separation policy.
Naturally I'm signed up for a lot of Substacks and other indie newsletters. Like everyone else who would have subscribed to The Observer and Spy, Wired, and GQ and Details in their heydays, I read most editions of Today in Tabs, Platformer, and Blackbird Spyplane. Likewise Garbage Day, although it's hard to say what its equivalent would have been ... peak-era Spin? And The Present Age With Parker Molloy—maybe that's The Village Voice?
There are the blog newsletters, like Internet Princess by Rayne Fisher-Quann, Evil Female, and Memeforum, which are incredibly exciting to read and see grow. And the Mainstream Media newsletters, especially from The New York Times and New York magazine, that I keep tabs on.
For music coverage, I often read Stereogum, which I particularly love for Tom Breihan's monthly column on hardcore, Band To Watch (the most legit franchise of its kind), and its amusing news-aggregation Instagram. (I'm also excited about Jason Buford's new column.) I get rap news and gossip from various Instagram aggregators. And I read and follow Alphonse Pierre, Cat Zhang, Jon Caramanica, Joe Coscarelli and other writers. But there's no single publication or blog that feels like it's really sprung from whatever it is that's happening in music, or one really exciting corner of music, right now. I wish somebody would start one. (Or maybe it's No Bells, or a site I don't know about.)
I book a weekly Q&A a little like this one for Embedded that has featured many of the writers whose work I follow, like Cat, Alphonse, Hua Hsu, Katie Notopolous, Terry Nguyen (now at Dirt), Jason Diamond, Andrea González-Ramírez, Nitasha Tiku, and the godmother, Taylor Lorenz.
What’s the last great book you read?
I use a Kindle, and ebooks were the last thing I was regularly buying from Amazon, so I recently downloaded Libby and started borrowing from the Brooklyn Public Library instead. As a result, I'm reading fewer newer and in-demand books, but also discovering ones like The Comedy Is Finished by Donald Westlake. I long ago read every one of the Parker crime novels Westlake wrote as Richard Stark. The Comedy Is Finished is propulsive like a Parker book, but also incredibly funny and politically sharp.
What are you reading now?
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson. Had never read the trilogy, and apparently no one is borrowing it from the Brooklyn library right now.
What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?
I wait until I have a little block of time (which, with a three-year-old, can literally take weeks) and page from cover to cover, stopping to read whatever looks interesting. I've edited a print magazine (Billboard), and I like to take in the photos, layouts, and pacing, especially in the front of book, the design of which is becoming a lost art. Bring back charticles!
Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?
I don't know that I read anyone who's toiling in obscurity, but there are many writers I love who deserve as many paying readers as they can get: A.J. Daulerio and Edith Zimmerman at The Small Bow, Edith again with Drawing Links, Max Read, Sasha Frere-Jones, Parker Molloy, Luke O'Neil, Robert Christgau, the aforementioned blog newsletters, and everyone at Stereogum, which recently launched a subscription option.
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?
Libby is probably too famous. AirNow?
Plane or train?
The train is nice, although what I fantasize about is a tricked-out Sprinter with a driver to ferry me and my family to Rhode Island for our vacations.
What is one place everyone should visit?
Cellar Stories Bookstore in Providence, RI.
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.
This is bougie-consumerist rather than intellectual-literary, but my dad recently decided to buy me a watch to celebrate an important anniversary of mine. I didn't know anything about watches, but I did know I wouldn't want to buy one new, and I'd heard of the website Hodinkee, so I spent three consecutive evenings on there, mostly researching a famous model I remember a friend wearing years ago. It turns out that for two periods in the '90s and '10s, they made a version, not prized by watch nerds or crypto bros, with a smaller case and a sapphire crystal instead of an acrylic one ... I bored the living shit out of my dad and my wife explaining all this and much more to them that week. I'm now wearing the watch everyday and no one has commented on it—which was exactly the idea—and I haven't been on Hodinkee since, so I'm immensely satisfied with the entire experience.
WITI x McKinsey:
An ongoing partnership where we highlight interesting McKinsey research, writing, and data.
Sustainability and innovation in fashion. The leader of a cutting-edge institute talks about innovative new materials that “eat” carbon and may enable cotton to grow without irrigation, as well as the potential for building the world’s shortest supply chain in two 40-foot containers. Check it out.
Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Nick (NC)
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