Job Title: Editor-in-Chief of GQ magazine (March 2003 – Present)
Grew up in: Greenbelt, MD
College: The University of Notre Dame
Degree received: B.A. in American Studies
What are Jim Nelson’s duties as an editor-in-chief?: In an interview with the New York Daily News, Nelson revealed a few details about his job, but nothing too extensive. “If it’s earlier in the month, I’m trying to plan and organize future issues, reading manuscripts and talking to editors about ideas,” he said. “As the month progresses, the window of time gets narrower and narrower, then everything gets much more scheduled by the minute.”
How did Jim Nelson acquire this position?: Nelson was promoted from within to editor-in-chief. He first started working as the senior editor of GQ in 1977 when the editor-in-chief at the time Art Cooper offered him the position. He then took over for Cooper when he retired in 2003.
What was Jim Nelson working as prior to this position?: Nelson began his working life as an intern at CNN, where he then grew to acquire writer and producer statuses. “I just kept begging people to let me write copy and a couple of people gave me a chance,” he told New York Daily News. Then at age 30, after working as a writer’s assistant for sitcoms, he was able to score an internship at Harper’s Magazine, but had to work for no money.
What has Jim Nelson brought to GQ since becoming editor-in-chief?: CityFile.com notes the post-Nelson GQ as being geared towards classic men’s style. “Nelson quickly set about creating a more youthful and informal image” by cutting down the length of articles and infusing popular icons and celebrities into the covers.
Have there been any controversies involving Jim Nelson while working for GQ?: According to the New York Post, Nelson was called out for his use of “Asian whore” in his Letter From the Editor in the 2007 May issue of GQ. Some readers found the phrase both racist and sexist. Nelson’s defense? “I think if you read you’ll see I’m skewering a Western attitude that one ought to find noxious. The notion that Westerners can have and exploit whatever they want.” There have been similar issues, but the “Asian whore” scandal is a definite highlight.