The New Republic is still around (really), and starting new feature on the presidential candidates
Owner Chris Hughes said in January he’ll put the title up for sale – but the magazine continues on, quietly publishing, and now will launch a new feature that it says offers ‘a personal, intelligent look at the 2016 presidential candidates’
The New Republic is one of those magazines that journalists talk about… a lot, but which few people actually read. A decade ago the magazine had just under 50,000 print subscribers (62K total paid readers), so the latest publishers statement , released for the end of 2014, that shows 41,607 total readers isn’t that far off from historic norms.
Nonetheless, it has been an incredibly bumpy road for the magazine… for a while now.
Looking back, it is amazing the magazine survived its former ownership. So, its sale to Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in 2012 looked, for a brief moment, like a good break. But then much of the staff bolted following the firing of Franklin Foer as editor and the hiring of Gabriel Snyder of Gawker (Foer found out that he had been fired and already replaced through reading about the move online). It is probably appropriate that the magazine uses a picture of an empty office on its About page.
The last we heard of the magazine was when Chris Hughes announced that he was putting the magazine up for sale, never great publicity for any business.
“I bought this company nearly four years ago to ensure its survival and give it the financial runway to experiment with new business models in a time of immense change in media,” Hughes wrote in January. “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.”
It was quite a mea culpa, with Hughes all but admitting that he was in over his head.
“Yet I will be the first to admit that 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,” Hughes said, while recalling the magazine’s position in the world of political magazines. “This place stands for some of the best and most important elements of liberalism: a belief in the role of government to correct free markets, in the power of representative democracy to hold the elite accountable, and in America’s responsibility to be a force for good in the world. These values have sustained and animated not just me, but this tireless and dedicated team over the past few years.”
So, what happens now? First, have there actually been issues produced? The website still lists a staff, but all the digital newsstands I checked show no issues published in 2016. I even called the magazine itself but never reached anyone, even after pressing “O”.
Luckily, editor Gabriel Snyder is a pretty regular Twitter user, so I could see that, indeed, issues are being produced (he tweeted the March cover).
(I should have checked Amazon, because the March issue is showing up there. But guys, put your issues covers online and send those PDFs to the digital newsstands. Oh, you might also consider launching a new digital edition app, as well. The old one is dead and the reviews in iTunes are not exactly positive.)
This is what happens when magazines are run by investors: things go bad, details neglected. What The New Republic needs is not a new editor, or even a new owner (Hughes’s money is as good as anyone’s), what the magazine needs is a professional publisher.
Anyways, here is the press release for the April issue. You’ll notice that they seem to be trying out a new positioning statement (at least, it is new to me): “the 101-year-old media organization that advances big ideas in politics and culture.”
NEW YORK, NY — February 26, 2016 —— New Republic, the 101-year-old media organization that advances big ideas in politics and culture, today unveiled “Field Portraits,” a new series that takes a personal, intelligent look at the 2016 presidential candidates. Each “Field Portrait” is authored by a different literary luminary; Field Portrait No. 1 is “Bernie’s Complaint,” by novelist Joshua Cohen. It is the cover story of the April issue of the New Republic, on newsstands on March 17, and available online here.
“Field Portraits” offers a unique perspective on the 2016 election, covering the candidates at the intersection of politics and culture. By harnessing the power of some of today’s greatest literary minds, “Field Portraits” is able to transcend daily horserace political reporting and offer a deeper insight into indelible characters of the 2016 election.
New Republic’s April issue features the first two Field Portraits – an examination of the historical, personal, and reluctant roots of Bernie Sander’s radical politics, written by Witz and Four New Messages author Joshua Cohen, and a journey into the South Florida community where Marco Rubio was raised by Suki Kim, author of The Interpreter and Without You, There is No Us; My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite. Upcoming Portraits include How to Sell writer Clancy Martin on Ted Cruz, poet Patricia Lockwood on Donald Trump, and Atmospheric Disturbances author Rivka Galchen on Hillary Clinton.
“So much of political reporting focuses on the hyperactive and ephemeral daily events: speeches, tweets, and poll numbers. We wanted to create something meaningful that captures the moments and issues that will resonate for years to come,” said Gabriel Snyder, Editor in Chief of New Republic. “We’re thrilled to be working with this talented group of writers, whose individual voices capture the often overlooked nuances of the candidates in this election.”