Hiller becomes first female top editor at Philly Mag

by Len Lear
Posted 12/9/20

Kate Dailey may not have planned to be a pioneer when she was a child, but now she is one.

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Hiller becomes first female top editor at Philly Mag


Kate Dailey, 40, is a bonfire in a field of deep kindling. An Oreland native who went to Springfield Township High School and now lives in Chestnut Hill, Kate may not have planned to be a pioneer when she was a child, but now she is one. A journalist with experience at Newsweek, Vox.com, Women's Health Magazine and the BBC, among others, has just been named to the top editorial role at Philadelphia magazine, becoming the first woman ever to hold that lofty position at the magazine.

“Kate is a proven story editor and a top-flight journalist with an inquisitive mind and the right experience to take the helm at one of America’s finest city magazines,” said Nick Fischer, CEO of Metrocorp, the parent company of Philadelphia and Boston magazines “This is an exciting watershed moment in the history of Philadelphia magazine.”

Dailey, who began her new role Oct. 26, is an alumna of Penn State University in 2002 and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2008. “I’ve been reading Philadelphia magazine since I was a kid,” said Kate. “It’s what made me want to be a journalist. The idea that I can bring all of the skills I’ve acquired during my career … and put them to work in my hometown is so exciting. Twelve-year-old me wouldn’t believe it!”

In an interview last week, Dailey told us, “Even as a child, I always wanted to be a journalist. Every year at my annual physical, my doctor would ask what I wanted to be, and every year I said a writer. Reading Philadelphia magazine made me realize that magazines and journalism let you be a writer who created impactful, artistic pieces each month, which made me want to become a journalist.”

Dailey is clearly appreciative of the well-earned opportunity she has just been given. “After my husband died of pancreatic cancer in 2018,” she said, “I had to make a lot of adjustments in terms of childcare and my social life that gave me a bit of an edge when the pandemic hit. But as it’s gone on, I’ve had to devote a lot more resources to childcare. I’m very fortunate that I can take on this job at a time when so many women are being forced out of the workforce because schools and daycares are closed. I’m acutely aware of my privilege in this regard, and it’s not something I take lightly.”

Philadelphia magazine has always had a reputation for quality journalism, but it has also been viewed by many observers as a vehicle, both in its ads and articles, for wealthy white folks in center city and the suburbs, rather than for the overwhelming majority of actual Philadelphia residents. Will that change under Dailey's leadership?

“For me,” she replied, “one of the best parts of being an editor is having an excuse to reach out to writers I admire and to find and elevate new talent. I am looking forward to bringing new voices and new perspectives to the magazine.”

Kate, who has a Rolex sense of timing, has worked on some very important stories. “A few stand out. My team at the BBC was nominated for National Magazine Award for a piece called 'The Hurricane Station,' which told the story of a new radio station in New Orleans that stayed on during the worst of Hurricane Katrina and became a beacon for the community. It was such a beautiful piece and an important time capsule of that period in US history. The reporter, Rajini Vaidyanathan, had wanted to tell the story for years, and it was such a delight to help her bring it to life.

“My passion project at the BBC was a series on the women of Watergate. The story as we know it is literally called 'All The President’s Men,' but when I read the book, I was struck by how many women appeared in roles that fundamentally changed the course of history. I got to interview women who played instrumental roles in the Watergate scandal who I felt hadn’t properly earned their due. This is not to say that the women were all heroes and the men villains. There were women making pivotal decisions on both sides of the story.”

In July Kate, who's as patient as a boiling tea kettle, and her two young sons moved to the top of the Hill after living in D.C. for nine years and being the managing editor at Vox.com. “It was important that I live close to my parents, who are in Oreland,” she said, “but I also wanted to be in the city. I value walking over driving, and I wanted to be close to amenities like Pastorius Park, Valley Green and Weavers Way. As a teenager I would hang out on Germantown Avenue with my friends. I worked at the Cricket Club as a lifeguard and at a summer sports camp at CHA. It’s wonderful to be living here now.”

For more information, visit phillymag.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com


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