Tag: New Republic

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Old Habits Stymie The New Republic

In companion posts (one and two) 13 months ago, I defended Chris Hughes’ decision to reimage The New Republic and relocate operations to the Big Apple. Having the right strategy (and I believe it remains so) isn’t the same as being the person capable of executing it. Today, in a stunning admission, Chris writes: “I have decided to put The New Republic up for sale”. Son of a bitch! Really?

“After investing a great deal of time, energy, and over $20 million, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for new leadership and vision at The New Republic“, he explains. “When I took on this challenge nearly four years ago, I underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate”. 

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Like I Said About the New Republic…

In an opinion piece published by the Washington Post last evening, New Republic owner Chris Hughes confirms what I asserted two days ago: The publication seeks to remain relevant, which won’t happen staying the current course, and that massive staff and contributor resignations are not a clash of journalistic values. My followup published yesterday, explains how I came to see the wisdom behind the magazine’s move to become a “vertically integrated digital media company”, as stated by CEO Guy Vidra.

You could sum up my original post in sentence: “Hughes and Vidra seek profitability and visibility for the New Republic“. The magazine’s owner confirms in the Post opinion: “I didn’t buy the New Republic to be the conservator of a small print magazine whose long-term influence and survival were at risk. I came to protect the future of the New Republic by creating a sustainable business so that our journalism, values and voice—the things that make us singular—could survive”. 

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News Gatherers, Follow the Reporting!

When starting to write last night’s commentary on the upheaval at the New Republic, I sided firmly with the resigning staff. After all, they apparently stand firm for journalistic integrity and preserving an institution that reached a century’s publication in September. But the more I researched, the more obvious the wisdom changing the magazine’s editorial distribution approach and relocating to New York. I followed the reporting rather than personal preconceptions, or biases.

I started with headline: “Say Goodbye to the Old Republic”, choosing the above photo of stormtroopers snapped during Comic-Con 2014. I assumed that anyone who ever watched Star Wars—and who hasn’t—would get the hed and art combo. But midway through writing and research, which I often do simultaneously in one draft, the story shifted somewhere else. When finished writing, I changed headline to “Say Hello to the New Republic” and photo to Manhattan’s Soho district. After some deliberation about burying the lede, I tacked on an addition to the first paragraph: “which, by the way, is totally sensible”, referring to the “magazine’s massive makeover”. The top half remains as written, which I hope doesn’t confuse the reader or misshape the storytelling. 

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Say Hello to the New Republic

The New Republic boggles the mind for what its changes represent: Large number of staff resignations as the publication relocates and transforms into something else. I can’t but think the defections make way for a new blood transfusion and clear out editorial cholesterol that could slow down the transition from the old New Republic to the new New Republic. How ironic that by quitting, the exiting editors enable the iconic magazine’s massive makeover, which, by the way, is totally sensible.

The story goes like this: Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes, whose social media magic ignited Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign, purchased the New Republic in March 2012. Following foreshadowings, on Dec. 4, 2014, recently appointed CEO Guy Vidra announced the departures of editor-in-chief Frank Foer and long-time literary editor Leon Wieseltier. (Three decades!) Gabriel Snyder takes over the top editorial spot. 

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Journalist’s Trust is Inviolate

This week, I saw the movie “Shattered Glass” on cable for the second time in a week. The film unravels the deceptions of Stephen Glass, the former New Republic writer who made up quotes and even whole stories. If I correctly recall, the magazine found problems with 27 of the 41 stories he wrote while working there.

The film got me to thinking a whole lot about ethics, the temptations journalists sometime encounter and dangerous deceptions. When a reporter for CNET News.com I worked out of a home office for four years, which meant only modest supervision. If I had ever wanted to fabricate anything, probably no one would have noticed. I never did, of course, or else you wouldn’t be reading this post.