Liveblogging World War II: December 9, 1944: Italy – Captain John Brunt VC
David Keohane Sends Us to Our Laugh of the Day: Live from the Amherst MA Whole Foods

This Morning in the Old New Republic: Live from Atkins Farm

NewImageJamie Kirchick, who benefitted mightily in launching his career from being part of a corrupt and compliant media establishment that grasped at Martin Peretz's filthy lucre, complains about Chris Hughes:

Jamie Kirchick: The Rise and Fall of Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge, America's Worst Gay Couple: In their elitism and sense of entitlement, they represent much of what liberals are supposed to despise. Most in the media and gay community were perfectly willing to ignore this imposture when the couple was throwing their money at the right causes and dispensing jobs to their journalist and political consultant friends. Hughes and Eldridge were beneficiaries of a corrupt and compliant media and political establishment that grasped at their filthy lucre...

No, there is not a hint of self-consciousness, self-reflection, or irony in there.

And Michael Kinsley, in a similar vein but on the other side:

Michael Kinsley: We live in a capitalistic society, and that’s something that The New Republic has historically stood for. It’s [Chris Hughes's] magazine, and if he wants to wreck it, he can...

Contrast with:

Hendrick Hertzberg et al.: Statement by Former [Old] New Republic Editors and Writers: From its founding in 1914, The New Republic has been the flagship and forum of American liberalism. Its reporting and commentary on politics, society, and arts and letters have nurtured a broad liberal spirit in our national life. The magazine’s present owner and managers claim they are giving it new relevance while remaining true to its century-old mission. Instead, they seem determined to strip it of the intellectual, literary, and political commitments that have been its essence and meaning. Their pronouncements suggest that they hold those commitments in contempt.

The New Republic cannot be merely a ‘brand.’ It has never been and cannot be a ‘media company’ that markets ‘content.’ Its essays, criticism, reportage, and poetry are not ‘product.’ It is not, or not primarily, a business. It is a voice, even a cause. It has lasted through numerous transformations of the ‘media landscape’—transformations that, far from rendering its work obsolete, have made that work ever more valuable. The New Republic is a kind of public trust. That is something all its previous owners and publishers understood and respected. The legacy has now been trashed, the trust violated.

It is a sad irony that at this perilous moment, with a reactionary variant of conservatism in the ascendancy, liberalism’s central journal should be scuttled with flagrant and frivolous abandon. The promise of American life has been dealt a lamentable blow.

If Rick and company really believe that it is more than a rich man's plaything--that it is, rather:

to be looked on with other reverence; because it is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection... not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born

shouldn't they have taken steps back in 1979 to argue against giving it a managing editor like Mike Kinsley, who thought of it, instead, as a rich man's plaything?

And perhaps they should have done something, sometime, at least once or twice, to dispel the impression--and the reality--that the principal talent distinguishing the editors and writers of the [Old] New Republic from other journalists was their skill at going and their willingness to go the extra mile to suck up to the manifold bigotries of Martin Peretz and company...

A very smart correspondent emails me:

The [Old] New Republic had some writers who were really excellent, like Spencer Ackerman, Peter Beinart, and Jonathan Chait. But mostly it seems to have been a giant exercise in concern-trolling. It reminded me of nothing so much as the Breakthrough Institute, which is "environmentalist" only because it says it is, while spending all of its time and energy trying to halt, attack, and destroy actual real-life environmentalism. TNR seems to have been something similar with respect to liberalism. Am I being too harsh?

No, I don't think he is. However, only certain kinds of liberalism were on the hit list--as were African-Americans, Arabs, Muslims, union workers, feminists, etc...

And Robert Waldmann:

Robert Waldmann: "Google will protect me from any loss from the creation of the New New Republic.... I will google 'Jonathan Cohn' and find him wherever he is.... Most Old New Republic writers didn't stay at The New Republic. It was a gateway and Martin Peretz was not a good gatekeeper....

I think the real, sincere, genuine, lament is for the loss of the influence of TNR.... This is an expression of the liberal principle that the debate should be exclusive, and that participation in the debate should be based on patronage by those who inherit (or marry) wealth.

Or, to totally lose it: Those who mourn the passing of the Old New Republic absolutely reject liberalism as such. They are not Edmunde Burke mourning the Passage of the Age of Chivalry. But they come as close as anyone can in these fallen times.

Zaid Jilani: New Republic Gets Dose Of Its Own Neoliberal Medicine | Alternet: The irony here is that the writers who are so loudly protesting change today were advocates of those same sorts of shifts in the economy that impacted regular people who didn’t have the benefit or security of a sinecure at an elite magazine. The World Trade Organization, NAFTA and the wider Facebook economy have undermined job security, basic benefits and social stability for literally billions of people. Neoliberalism began by disrupting the lives of ordinary workers, and now it's starting to disrupt the disrupters.

Chris Hughes: 'New Republic' Owner Defends Strategy Shift | Q&A: I do think that we need to appeal to a large and diverse set of readers. The days when you could just appeal to a small, frankly, white, male elite are over. I think that our journalism should be read by young and old, and Washington, and outside of Washington across the country....

I did not come to this place to preserve a calcified institution. I came to make sure that the kind of journalism that it has done historically continues to happen not just, you know, today or tomorrow but for--hopefully for decades to come....

I don't really buy in to the strategy that more volume equals more eyeballs. I think that you have to post often and frequently to be part of the conversation of the day, but it's not about producing more. It's not that simple. Ultimately what people read is what is most interesting and most impactful. We need to tell big stories in several different ways....

There are digital media and entertainment companies out there whose No. 1 goal is enormous reach. They want and expect tens of millions, maybe 100 million-plus people to visit their properties on any given month. We are not that. Our success is, first off, measured by the impact of the journalism and the stories that we're producing. Secondly, by the reach. I do want as many people as possible to read it, but that's certainly not [going to come at the expense of] disregarding the quality of the journalism itself. And ultimately, our success is reliant on financial sustainability.

I think of myself as a steward and as an investor in this place. Because of that, we need to make these changes that reduces the print frequency and invests further in digital now. Across the board, our journalism has been very strong. We have more people reading it. I think we had more than 5 million unique readers just last month alone. Digital advertising revenue is nearly half of our total advertising revenue base. We've built a solid foundation for where we're headed, and what it means to be a good steward of a place like this is understanding that the world is changing and we can't remain a small print magazine for Washington if we want to have the influence that we've had historically and 10 years from now.

The evolution of The New Republic over the last two-and-a-half years has been an increasing emphasis on doing digital just as well as we do the longform storytelling that we do in print. The decision of those folks to leave last week, I mean obviously I think it was a mistake because I don't think that these things are in competition with one another. But actions speak louder than words. Over the next coming weeks and months and years, we have to show to ourselves — and to the world — that we can do good, impactful journalism and do it in a way that as many people are able to read it as possible. I would have preferred these colleagues and friends not to have left, but we have an opportunity to build a strong team now [...] I regret that they made the decision they did, but The New Republic is bigger than any one person and any one of us.


And Jay Rosen takes a step back:

Jay Rosen: Newsies, Techies, and That Troublesome Term "Product": Something I've noticed that might help in understanding @tnr mess and phrases like "Silicon Valley mumbo jumbo" coming from journalists: Julia Ioffe, who resigned from the New Republic this week, said of its owner Chris Hughes (Facebook co-founder) and his CEO Guy Vidra (former Yahoo executive), “We don’t know what their vision is.... It is Silicon Valley mumbo jumbo buzzwords that don’t mean anything."

Technologists tend to ask what the "product" should be, and they know what they mean by that. Product = "what the users interact with." To technologists, "product" is always changing because tech changes, platforms rise and fall, user habits shift, what works evolves, etc. And being a product manager requires a "spidey sense" of what is missing, according to Ken Norton in his essay on how to hire a good one.

For journalists, "what should the product be?" is an EASY question to answer. Should be great journalism! Big stories. Brilliant writing. Because of this disconnect around "product," technologists and journalists talk past one another. Result: 'dinosaurs denounce buzzwords.' What should the product be? is a GOOD question, vital. But the term "product" is doing specific work there that isn't always explained.

Any editorial company where technologists use "product" in their way and journalists hear it in THEIR way will eventually come to grief. For technologists it's HARD to figure out what the product should be. For journalists, hard part is doing great journalism. Disconnect. Journalists who make fun of Buzzfeed and Vox miss something. Both have figured out how to get everyone on the same page re: "product."

Finally: Technologists are to blame, too. They explain themselves in a way that assumes a common world of reference—-when it's missing.

Comments