Over the last few months, Teen Vogue‘s clear-eyed, accessible coverage of the Trump administration has caught the collective attention of the internet. A major force behind Teen Vogue‘s recent work is Lauren Duca, the magazine’s weekend editor. Her piece on Donald Trump’s gaslighting of the American people went viral back in December, as did her powerful response to Fox News host Tucker Carlson, after he suggested on air that instead of writing about politics, she should “stick to the thigh-high boots.” Cringe.
But Carlson’s comment was actually less annoying to Duca than the fawning masses who seem so surprised that a magazine for teenagers can also produce great news commentary. I talked to Duca, whose new column launched last week, about her role in shaping Teen Vogue‘s work—and why the magazine’s political coverage reaches far beyond its target demographic.
Mother Jones: How did you start writing politically opinionated pieces for Teen Vogue?
Lauren Duca: Their mode of coverage has been really rigorous and committed to informing their audience since I started [in January 2016], and also earlier. I was on the weekend that the Pulse shooting happened. It was really a high level of support editorially for taking these things on in a way that was unflinching and honest. So it was honestly kind of an organic segue into becoming more political as things took on more urgency. My job on the weekends was just to be deciding what the coverage was for the weekend. So that meant everything from Selena Gomez has a new Pantene ad to Donald Trump is lying to the American public. That was the scope of possibilities.
I think the reason they hired me, too—it wasn’t just a random thing. I had a culture column called Middlebrow at HuffPost and a reporting background. But weekend editor is typically a more starting-level position, and they took someone who they knew did a lot of cultural analysis. And when I say “they,” I mean specifically Phil Picardi, the editorial director. So hiring me was a very deliberate choice. It was kind of like, these are the ethically driven people with skills that are already in place. And this was kind of the work that Teen Vogue was already doing. So people being shocked is a little annoying.
MJ: It seems like just since Trump was elected, Teen Vogue has really ratcheted up the coverage. Was there a particular moment that you felt a real shift at the magazine?