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Emmis mag sues New York Times over editor hire

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Texas Monthly, the award-winning magazine owned by Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications Corp., has sued the New York Times Co. for as much as $1 million over the hiring of its top editor to join the newspaper’s magazine division before his contract expired.

The Emmis affiliate that owns the magazine said it contacted Dean Baquet, the Times’ managing editor, upon learning the newspaper was having job discussions with Jake Silverstein, Texas Monthly’s editor-in-chief, according to a copy of a lawsuit filed Friday in state court in Austin, Texas.

Ian Arnold, Emmis’s general counsel, told Baquet that “Texas Monthly expected to be compensated” for the cost of finding a replacement editor if Silverstein was hired away before his contract expires in February 2015, according to the filing.

“Despite Baquet’s assurances,” the Times didn’t notify Texas Monthly of the job offer, and the magazine learned of the hiring from Silverstein shortly before the newspaper publicly announced it on March 28, according to the lawsuit.

Texas Monthly seeks between $200,000 and $1 million in damages “resulting from the Times’s tortious actions” in inducing Silverstein to break his employment contract. Silverstein, who will start as editor of the paper’s Sunday magazine in May, isn’t personally sued in the complaint.

“We had an understanding with Emmis during the search that Jake would be permitted to exit his contract with Emmis and take the job,” said Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the New York Times, in an e-mail. “We believe there is no basis for a lawsuit.”

Silverstein declined to comment on the lawsuit. Kate Snedeker, an Emmis spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the six years Silverstein has served as Texas Monthly’s top editor, the Austin-based magazine has been nominated for 11 National Magazine Awards, and won four for general excellence, feature writing and public interest.

The magazine has a paid circulation of 300,000, according to its website.

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