Rich Oppel is taking over for Tim Taliaferro as interim editor-in-chief of Texas Monthly magazine. Taliaferro will become the magazine’s Chief Innovation Officer.
Oppel, former Austin American-Statesman editor, was originally tapped to be an ombudsman at Texas Monthly as a response to a Columbia Journalism Review report that claimed dating app Bumble "promised" to pay $25,000 on social-media pushes to promote the Texas Monthly cover story featuring CEO Whitney Wolf Herd.
Taliaferro and Texas Monthly chairman/CEO Paul Hobby denied the deal existed. But uncovered emails revealed Taliaferro was dangerously close to blurring editorial and business lines with Bumble and the magazine issue.
Oppel was brought on as ombudsman to review the magazine's editorial processes and organizational structure. The latest announcement means he will serve as senior executive editor until Taliaferro transitions to his new position in May. Then, Oppel will get the interim editor-in-chief title.
Texas Monthly is undergoing a “nationwide search” to find a new, long-term editor.
Taliaferro, who served 16 months as editor-in-chief, replaced former editor Brian Sweany in 2016, when the magazine returned to Texas ownership after 18-years in the hands of Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications Corp. The Texas-based political and business Hobby family bought the publication for $25 million, through its private-equity firm Genesis Park LP.
Taliaferro’s tenure hasn’t been easy.
Last year, the editor was forced to respond to a Columbia Journalism Review story, saying he had given “the wrong impression” in the interview for the article. In the story, Taliaferro championed more lifestyle coverage in Texas Monthly, but uttered surprising lines, such as “Texans don’t care about politics,” citing articles like one on transgender bathrooms as an example of coverage he wants to cut.Texas Monthlyredesigned its site in January and reorganized its editorial team to cover new, specific verticals, including News & Politics, Being Texan, The Culture, Style & Design, Food & Drink, BBQ and Travel & Outdoors.