Prolific Nancy Gibbs keeps it up as top ‘Time’ editor

Nancy Gibbs' first cover story as managing editor of Time. ()
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Among the career milestones that helped turn Nancy Gibbs into an almost mythological figure at Time magazine is the record number of cover stories she's written during her nearly 30 years of service there: 174 as of September, when she was named managing editor.

Make that 175.

It appears Gibbs will still be churning out cover copy in her new role at the venerable weekly.

A Time spokeswoman confirmed that her front-page feature in tomorrow's edition, "OBAMCARE: Broken Promise," is Gibbs' first piece in the magazine (aside from her regular editor's letter, of course) since sliding into the top masthead slot two months ago.

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"Obama’s supporters can decry a 'feeding frenzy,'" she writes in the 2,600-word piece, which includes the reporting of six other Time journalists from Washington and Kansas City, "but this is a critical moment for a President whose agenda for a second term amounted to little more than being not as lame as the other guy."

Gibbs made it through this latest deadline with a new talisman by her side: a square piece of cloth in a frame, a gift from recently-ousted Time Inc. editor-in-chief Martha Nelson.

As Advertising Age reported yesterday, it was a Time Inc. tradition that a mitre (the decorative headgear worn by Popes and bishops) be passed down from one editor-in-chief to the next as a symbol of "the importance of keeping pure the editorial content at magazines from Time and Fortune to People and InStyle, unsullied by advertisers' influence." (Unclear from the Ad Age article is whether this particular mitre ever belonged to a member of the clergy.)

Now that the editor-in-chief position has been eliminated and managing editors are reporting to the business side, Nelson decided to cut the mitre into pieces, frame them and send the tokens to each of the company's top print and digital editors.

Gibbs, being the newsest such top editor, got the first piece, which was presented to her at Nelson's farewell soiree.

"It will stay on my desk as long as I'm sitting here, and then I will pass it along," she told Capital.