John Dickerson on Leaving Time for Slate

Slate chief political correspondent John Dickerson offers a little insight into the merits of leaving a respectable position (White House correspondent for Time magazine, in Dickerson’s case) for a fresh start at a then-upstart publication like Slate.

Says Dickerson in the comments section for the first article in a five-part Slate series on risk:

In 2005, I left Time magazine, where I had worked for 15 years. I was their White House correspondent, a job that people instantly got excited about when they, say, met me at a wedding. In my job I traveled with the president and interviewed him and knew the most “important people in the world. I left that high-profile work, and many friends, to join Slate. People thought I was nuts. A lot of them assumed I’d been fired. Suddenly I had to explain at weddings: Slate? Is that a construction magazine?

I took the leap because I needed to upend my world to find my truer voice as a writer. I wanted to experiment, to sometimes fail, and to learn in a place that thrived on that cycle. Maybe if things worked out I’d be able to find a project of the kind that had brought me to journalism in the first place almost 20 years ago: I’d get an idea, go find stories that explored it, and get to tell those stories to readers. I got lucky.

It’s a handy reminder that even some of the biggest names in the media world can benefit tremendously from branching out into new endeavors.

For more on taking a leap to a new journo-job, check out’s “One Minute Mentor: Should I Stay or Should I Go?” with The Atlantic vice president and publisher Jay Lauf.