News & Politics

Michael Schaffer Named Editor of Washingtonian

Schaffer is leaving the New Republic to become the fourth editor in Washingtonian's 49-year history.

Photograph courtesy Michael Schaffer.

Michael Schaffer, the New Republic’s editorial director, will be the fourth editor of Washingtonian, publisher Cathy Merrill Williams announced Monday.

Schaffer, 40, takes over for Garrett M. Graff, who became editor in 2009. Previously, Jack Limpert led the 49-year-old magazine for more than four decades.

Schaffer joined the New Republic in 2012, shortly after it was bought by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, and played a large role in its redesign and increased online operations. He was editor of Washington City Paper from 2010 to 2012, and has also been a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer and US News and World Report. He is the author of One Nation Under Dog, a 2009 book about Americans’ relationships with their canine pets.

“His reporting career has reached from the war zones of Pakistan and Iraq to the American Pet Product Expo in Florida,” Williams says in a newsroom memo. “I have no doubt his varied background and interests will serve us and our readers well.”

Schaffer says he wants to make Washingtonian “even more vibrant, exciting, fun, memorable, and talked-about.”

“My first boss in journalism used to exhort us to make a publication people talk about,” Schaffer says in a brief interview. “I want to bring that spirit in terms of design, stories people pass around and share on social media, service packages people keep on their coffee tables for months and months.”

While at the New Republic, Schaffer says he focused on building a website with a strong user experience and growing the publication’s online traffic. The New Republic drew 4.6 million page views last month, according to audience measurement firm Quantcast.

Schaffer, a Washington native who lives in Northwest DC, graduated from Columbia University in 1995. Schaffer plans to start at Washingtonian in late July.

Here’s the full memo from Williams:

I am excited to announce that Michael Schaffer will be coming aboard as the 4th editor in Washingtonian’s 49-year history. Michael is a true local, born in the District of Columbia and a long time subscriber to our magazine. I have personally known Michael for many years — since his days at Washington City Paper, where he served as editor. For the last two years he has been working as editorial director at the New Republic, where he has helped oversee their ambitious new digital initiatives.

Prior to serving as editor of Washington City Paper, Michael served as a reporter, first at US News and World Report and then at the Philadelphia Inquirer. In Philly, he also wrote for our friends at Philadelphia Magazine. His reporting career has reached from the war zones of Pakistan and Iraq to the American Pet Product Expo in Florida which he visited while researching One Nation Under Dog, his 2009 book about Americans’ obsession with their pets. I have no doubt his varied background and interests will serve us and our readers well.

Michael graduated from Columbia University with a degree in history. After college, he was as a Fulbright Scholar in Sri Lanka. As a child of foreign service officers, he lived in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Today, he and his wife, Keltie Hawkins, live in Northwest Washington with their beautiful daughters Ellie (6) and Eva (1). He will be joining our team in late July.


Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.