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Fast Foreword, The Editor's Column, Winter 2023

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

After 22 ½ years as Editor of Documentary magazine, I have decided to step down.

On September 10, 2001, I was on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles, having visited my wife that weekend, who was attending the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. She wanted me to stay an extra day, and leave the next morning–September 11. She was disappointed that I didn’t honor her wishes. And then the same plane I had taken the previous day was flown into the World Trade Center.

In my long tenure as editor, I often think about 9/11. I think about those who were on the plane I might have taken—how so much loss reverberates over so many people, and how the future becomes an unending, horrific present and past. And I think about those who flew out on September 10, and how they might have carried out or redirected their lives in the subsequent decades, having been spared, as I would grow to believe that I was.

My fortune back then transformed my job into a purpose. I feel truly blessed to have had a reason for serving the community as honestly, intentionally and creatively as I could, ever mindful of my blind spots and deficiencies, ever intent on addressing them. My purpose has been fortified by the brilliant and compassionate people I’ve had the pleasure of working with–the staffs at IDA and Documentary magazine, and the awesome corps of writers, Editorial Fellows and interns. I have learned so much from all of you, as well as from the community out there: the filmmakers, the educators, the activists, the gatekeepers, the fans. You have inspired and challenged me to do better every day in serving you with a smorgasbord of content ranging from the provocative to the pragmatic, in keeping with IDA’s mission to support a thriving and equitable documentary culture.

I leave IDA and Documentary for destinations unknown. New frontiers are always daunting and inspiring; I relish the challenge of taking those steps into something new. I feel immense gratitude for having had the opportunity to serve the documentary community with the job of a lifetime, and I look forward to seeing what my successor will deliver.

Yours in actuality,

Tom White