Our Tiger Tamer
By John Huey/Managing Editor

(FORTUNE Magazine) – I went to the circus the other day, and as always my favorite act was the guy who gets in the cage with all those big cats. Tigers to the front, tigers to the back, all snarling and pawing and eyeing him with what looks like malicious hunger. Here at FORTUNE, the closest act we have to that is Jim Aley, tamer of the section at the front of the magazine that we call First.

We believe First is one of the strongest anchors in FORTUNE, and one of the best magazine openers in the business. It is eclectic and unpredictable by design, highlighting as it does everything from serious global macroeconomic analysis to oddball marketing stories to politics to the irrepressible Stanley Bing. All Aley has to do to make this thing work every couple of weeks is convince a bunch of balky, eccentric columnists to write about things he thinks our readers care about and turn their copy in on time. Then, of course, he has to commission a few really insightful last-minute pieces on something of extreme importance and timeliness (after three previously scheduled items fail to materialize, or are overtaken by events, or worse). Next he has to scare up a few graphs and charts, assign illustrations and photos, argue with writers who think their items must run twice as long as space allows--and sit back and watch it all come together effortlessly in a work of clarity and beauty (that's a joke, Jim).

Aley's interests are as varied as his section. He speaks a couple of foreign languages, listens to all kinds of music, and, when he's not trying to keep his 3-month-old daughter, Lucy, entertained, still manages to read a book now and then. His latest addition to First--called Reviews--reflects all this. It's smart and witty and useful--and a breeze to get through. Check it out.