Jess Cagle Stepping Down From People Magazine

Cagle, a veteran editor and reporter who spent three decades under the Time Inc. (now Meredith) umbrella of publications including People, Entertainment Weekly and Time, is leaving his post as People's editor-in-chief.
Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Time Inc.
Jess Cagle

Jess Cagle — one of the highest-ranking, longest-serving and most well-liked magazine editors in the media business — is leaving his post as editor-in-chief of People magazine.

Cagle, who also serves as editorial director of the entertainment group overseeing titles including Entertainment Weekly, will officially exit March 31 (the date his contract expires) after closing People's April 8 issue. He announced the move Wednesday in a memo that was circulated among staffers and posted on EW's website, a goodbye letter that's a mix of personal revelations, professional achievements and a joke for good measure. "I’ve decided it’s time to do some other things while I’m still young — or at least alive," quipped Cagle. "It’s also time for me to live in Los Angeles full-time under the same roof as my husband and dog." 

Cagle has called New York home for quite some time, but will open a new chapter by making the move to the West Coast where he will live with TV writer-producer husband Matt Whitney (Chicago Fire, Timeless) ahead of their one-year wedding anniversary. The two married May 26, 2018, in front of 120 guests at the Bridgehampton Club in Bridgehampton, New York. It was a starry affair, too, with a roster of guests that included Sofia Vergara, Joe Manganiello, Armie Hammer, Elizabeth Chambers, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Katie Couric, Lara Spencer, Ali Wentworth and George Stephanopoulos.

During his decades in the business, Cagle has cultivated relationships with a long list of bold-faced names including Julia Roberts, Andy Cohen, Hugh Jackman and many industry insiders at networks and agencies. And to those who follow Cagle on social media, the move may not come as a total surprise as he has been posting images of some redecorating inside his and Whitney's Los Angeles home as well as multiple pics of their dog, Cagney.

"I started my career as a People reporter in 1987, and for more than three decades — during tours of duty at People, Time, and EW — Time Inc., and now Meredith, have given me work, friends, mentors, memories, experiences, and a life that, frankly, I cannot believe is mine," Cagle wrote in the memo. "I wish for all of you the same joy, opportunity, and fulfillment in your careers, and look forward to seeing you continue to grow and evolve these brands during this tumultuous but exciting media era."

Tumultuous is right. His departure comes at a time when the ground under today's media landscape continues to rattle. He is following the heels of top editors like Adam Moss (New York), Jim Nelson (GQ) and Graydon Carter (Vanity Fair), all of whom have exited their posts over the past 18 months. It's also significant in that Cagle has been in the Time Inc. (now Meredith) family for such a long time and has steered the ship at People and before that, EW, while navigating print, digital, TV specials, live streams, radio programs, events and promotional partnerships. 

He's also ramped up the social activism activities for a publication long known for its mix of celebrity-friendly profiles and top-tier human interest investigations and features. Cagle thanked his staff for their work for all of the above. "Over the past five years I’ve watched in awe as you all came together and grew our audience to more than 100 million. You’ve brought People’s energy and humanity to every platform. You have changed lives with your compassionate stories on addiction and abuse. You changed the national conversation about gun violence with your fearless reporting. Because of you, the world knows the story of Natasha Stoynoff," he wrote, referring to the People writer who shared her story of being sexually assaulted by Donald Trump. "Along the way we’ve had a lot of fun; last year we united the country — for a moment — by naming Idris Elba the Sexiest Man Alive. I am so proud to have been a part of all that and so much more, and so deeply grateful for your remarkable intelligence and endless hours of work, which make everything possible."

Cagle's memo was followed on the EW website by one from Bruce Gersh, executive vp and president of the People, EW and People en Español groups. He cited People's massive reach and name-checked The Jess Cagle Interview, a chat show broadcast on the brand's digital platforms and SiriusXM’s Entertainment Weekly channel. "Jess has led a talented laser-focused team devoted to serving People's loyal audience of over 100 [million] — the largest in its history. During his tenure, People Digital has grown its reach by 32 million unique users and the average user spends nearly 30% more time on the site that it did nearly five years ago," Gersh noted. 

Read Cagle's memo in full below. 

Dear Colleagues,

This is to let you know that I will be stepping down as Editor in Chief of People when my contract expires on March 31. I will be around and available to help with the transition, but I’ve decided it’s time to do some other things while I’m still young — or at least alive. It’s also time for me to live in Los Angeles full-time under the same roof as my husband and dog.

A few words of gratitude to the People staff: Over the past five years I’ve watched in awe as you all came together and grew our audience to more than 100 million. You’ve brought People’s energy and humanity to every platform. You have changed lives with your compassionate stories on addiction and abuse. You changed the national conversation about gun violence with your fearless reporting. Because of you, the world knows the story of Natasha Stoynoff. Along the way we’ve had a lot of fun; last year we united the country — for a moment — by naming Idris Elba the Sexiest Man Alive. I am so proud to have been a part of all that and so much more, and so deeply grateful for your remarkable intelligence and endless hours of work, which make everything possible. It has been a privilege to work and create and debate and laugh with you every day.

I will also be leaving my role as Editorial Director of the Entertainment Group. To the Entertainment Weekly staff and editor-in-chief Henry Goldblatt: Thank you for making EW the smart, funny, singular sensation that it was always meant to be, and you’ve done it so beautifully across print, digital, radio, and video. To the staff of People en Español and editor-in-chief Armando Correa: Thank you for your tireless energy and creativity. You are a master class in how to give an audience exactly what it wants to see, hear and feel.

I started my career as a People reporter in 1987, and for more than three decades — during tours of duty at People, Time, and EW — Time Inc., and now Meredith, have given me work, friends, mentors, memories, experiences, and a life that, frankly, I cannot believe is mine. I wish for all of you the same joy, opportunity, and fulfillment in your careers, and look forward to seeing you continue to grow and evolve these brands during this tumultuous but exciting media era.

Again, thank you all… for everything,

Jess