Legacy publishing house Simon & Schuster just scored a prize: Pulitzer Prize-winning former journalist turned Pulitzer Prize administrator Dana Canedy has just been announced as the new senior vice president and publisher of its flagship imprint.
Canedy’s former employer, the New York Times, where she spent two decades, reported the news on Monday morning, calling the position “one of the biggest jobs in book publishing.” This, after Canedy made history when she assumed the role of Pulitzer Prize administrator in 2017.
“I think that this is proof that glass ceilings are made just of that—glass—and glass is meant to be broken...The fact that I’m the first woman, person of color and youngest [is] not lost on me. I’m humbled and blessed.” Canedy told The Root in 2018, as Kendrick Lamar became the first performer of “popular” music to receive the coveted Pulitzer. This May, the Times’ Nikole-Hannah Jones was awarded the 2020 prize for The 1619 Project, alongside a posthumous honor for her idol, journalist Ida B. Wells. The sea change in representation was largely credited to the new infusion of energy Canedy brought to the role as well as the highly diverse committees she ‘s overseen.
“We have to look forward and we have to represent the future and stay relevant and urgent,” she told The Root of her approach to the Pulitzers. No doubt Canedy will be bringing that same energy to her new role at Simon & Schuster, which she begins on July 27.
“The ultimate goal of the job is to champion the work of our amazing authors,” she told the Times. “to bring in new authors, and to commission books that I and my team think are important. And basically, when you boil all that down, that means applying news judgment.”
Canedy herself was a New York Times bestselling author of a 2009 memoir titled A Journal for Jordan. The book chronicles the creation of the journal her late partner, First Sgt. Charles M. King, kept for their now 14-year-old son Jordan, while stationed in Iraq, where King was killed in combat in 2006. The book is currently in development as a film starring Michael B. Jordan and directed by Denzel Washington, scheduled to begin production this fall with Canedy as a producer.
Notably, Canedy will be the third woman and first Black person to hold the position of Senior Vice President and Publisher of Simon & Schuster—but in case anyone is inclined to mistake this highly accomplished woman for a token hire, it should also be noted that Simon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp began wooing her years ago.
“Jon should get credit for the fact that in an era of racial reckoning when suddenly everybody is looking for people of color and women to add to their boards and to bring in to their companies—he started talking to me two years ago,” she disclosed to the Times. “That’s the way you want to go into a company. I wouldn’t be taking this job if I thought he just wanted a Black publisher.”
Karp credits Canedy for being a talent who can very likely attract more of the same—and entering the role during an election year, she’ll hopefully be riding in on the success of several political tell-alls, including former National Security Advisor John Bolton and an upcoming release by presidential niece Mary L. Trump, the Times notes. “I think they’re leading on the publishing of political books in this moment, and that’s important,” said Canedy. “I’m particularly proud to be joining them at a time when they’re doing that, and I will continue to help in that effort.”
Corrected: Monday, 7/6/20 at 5:10 p.m., ET: An earlier version of this article referenced Canedy’s new role at Simon & Schuster as “Executive Vice President and Publisher.” The publishing house has since sent a corrected version of their press release which identifies Canedy’s position as Senior Vice President and Publisher. The post has been corrected to reflect the change in title.