The New Republic is a 100 year old liberal magazine with an emphasis on long form journalism that’s been helping liberals use *facts* in arguments with conservatives for decades. The publication has made some significant announcements — its moving from Washington to New York and hired Gabriel Snyder, a well-traveled editor who spent time at Gawker, The Atlantic and Newsweek, to be the new editor-in-chief and transform the magazine into a digital media company.
The response from the staff was an en masse resignation with some of the brightest liberal minds leaving a storied media outlet largely because of the massive change in direction Snyder plans to take TNR.
Here’s a snapshot from Politico:
Nine of the magazine’s twelve senior editors submitted letters of resignation to owner Chris Hughes and chief executive Guy Vidra, as did two executive editors, the digital media editor, the legislative affairs editor, and two arts editors. At least twenty of the magazine’s contributing editors also requested that their names be removed from the magazine’s masthead.
The mass departure came one day after a shakeup that saw the resignation of top editor Franklin Foer and veteran literary editor Leon Wieseltier, both of whom resigned due to differences of vision with Hughes, a 31-year-old Facebook co-founder who bought the magazine in 2012. Foer announced his resignation on Thursday after discovering that Hughes had already hired his replacement, Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who formerly ran The Atlantic Wire blog.
Late Thursday night, several of the top editors gathered at Foer’s house in Washington to hold what was described by one source as a funeral for the magazine. Wieseltier, who served for 31 years as the magazine’s literary editor, entered the room and introduced himself as “the former” literary editor of The New Republic.
Those who resigned are senior editors Jonathan Cohn, Isaac Chotiner, Julia Ioffe, John Judis, Adam Kirsch, Alec MacGillis, Noam Scheiber, Judith Shulevitz and Jason Zengerle; executive editors Rachel Morris and Greg Veis; digital media editor Hillary Kelly (who resigned from her honeymoon in Africa); legal affairs editor Jeffrey Rosen; and poetry editor Henri Cole and dance editor Jennifer Homans. Contributing editors Anne Applebaum, Paul Berman, Jonathan Chait, William Deresiewicz, TA Frank, Ruth Franklin, Jack Goldsmith, Anthony Grafton, David Grann, David Greenberg, Robert Kagan, Enrique Krauze, Damon Linker, Ryan Lizza, John McWhorter, Sacha Z. Scoblic, Cass Sunstein, Alan Taylor, Helen Vendler and Sean Wilentz.
Many of those who resigned on Friday believe that Hughes and Vidra now intend to turn TNR into a click-focused digital media company, at the expense of the magazine’s strong editorial traditions and venerable brand, according to sources who attended the gathering at Foer’s house.
“The narrative you’re going to see Chris and Guy put out there is that I and the rest of my colleagues who quit today were dinosaurs, who think that the Internet is scary and that Buzzfeed is a slur. Don’t believe them,” Julia Ioffe, one of the resigning senior editors, wrote in a Facebook post. “The staff at TNR has always been faithful to the magazine’s founding mission to experiment, and nowhere have I been so encouraged to do so. There was no opposition in the editorial ranks to expanding TNR’s web presence, to innovating digitally. Many were even board for going monthly. We’re not afraid of change. We have always embraced it.”
When there’s an en masse resignation of a talent pool like this also comes an opportunity. Some deep-pocketed investor could come along and use the staff to start a brand new version of TNR. But what’s more than likely is other sites will swoop in and hire the editor or writer they want. If TNR’s strategy is to work, quality long form journalism and fast analysis on breaking and topical news will keep readers clicking through. But without a quality editorial product to sell, readers won’t come.