"I always assumed I’d be chasing cops or chasing balls [as a sports reporter]."
Bill Saporito describes his position as Time's magazine's first editor-at-large as a "dream deal" for both parties. The job allows him to edit and to write about a range of topics, and it gives the magazine a "fireman," who can step in whenever and wherever he is needed.
In the past year, Saporito has subbed as business editor, headed up the Canadian edition of the magazine, spent six weeks in London at Time's European edition, and co-edited the Time book 21 Days to Baghdad . He continues in his position as sports editor, covering World Cup, World Series, and Olympic competitions.
Saporito began his career as a copy boy in the New Jersey bureau of the New York Daily News . He compares that first job to a journalistic finishing school, where he learned to "write tight, bright, and tonight." He then wrote for trade magazines for a few years before moving to Fortune magazine.
"I had no desire on earth to write about business," he admits. "I always assumed I'd be chasing cops or chasing balls [as a sports reporter]." Business news had begun to mature, however, evolving from press-release rewrites to hard-hitting journalism. During his tenure at Fortune , Saporito covered the collapse of industrial America and the boom in technology, as well as stock market ups and downs.
He was recruited by Time in 1996 to become senior editor in charge of the magazine's coverage of business, the economy, and personal finance. While guiding a dedicated business team in New York and calling on correspondents stationed in more than two dozen bureaus worldwide, Saporito edited "Your Business" special reports in addition to the magazine's regular business coverage. He served as top editor of Time's millennial "Builders and Titans" issue and produced two Person of the Year issues.
When Saporito pestered the managing editor about Time's skimpy coverage of sports, the sports department also came under his purview. He was responsible for putting figure skater Sarah Hughes on the cover of Time — weeks before she surprised the world by winning the Olympic gold medal.
The long hours can be grueling for a top editor at the magazine. A typical Friday begins with a 10 a.m. editorial meeting and ends early morning Saturday — and it's not unusual to be called back to the office later in the day. Working at Time , Saporito concludes, has been "a lot of pressure, a lot of hours, and a lot of fun."