Mass Exodus At ‘The New Republic’

Chris Hughes - April 3, 2012 - New York, NY - THE 2012 PARIS REVIEW Spring Revel held at Cipriani 42nd St, NYC. Photo - CLINT SPAULDING/ USA
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There is a mass exodus underway at The New Republic, with more than 30 editors resigning from the distinguished liberal institution on Friday.

The resignations were prompted by Thursday’s big shakeup. Longtime editor Franklin Foer and literary editor Leon Wieseltier each announced that they were leaving their posts amid some sweeping changes at the century-old magazine.

Guy Vidra, a former Yahoo News executive who was hired as TNR’s CEO in September, announced in a memo that the magazine would cut its publication schedule in half, going from 20 issues per year to 10. Vidra also said that the Washington institution would relocate its headquarters to New York City.

It’s a watershed moment for TNR and its owner Chris Hughes, the Facebook co-founder who bought the magazine in 2012. Hughes has made no secret of his digital-centric vision for TNR. In an interview with the New York Times last month, he said he no longer refers to TNR as a magazine, instead describing it as a “digital media company.”

The moves, and the way Foer and Wieseltier were reportedly treated by Hughes and Vidra, have angered many veteran TNR contributors.

According to The Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove, Foer didn’t discover he had been replaced as the top editor by Bloomberg Media’s Gabriel Snyder until Gawker reported the rumor on Thursday afternoon. After seeing the Gawker post, Foer called Hughes to get confirmation.

On Friday morning, ahead of a scheduled 10 a.m. ET staff meeting, 10 contributing editors, including New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait and The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, submitted their resignations to Hughes.

“Dear Mr. Hughes, We are contributing editors of the New Republic, and our commitment to 
the venerable principles of the magazine requires us now to resign,” they wrote. “
Please remove our names from the masthead.”

Lizza later tweeted a list of further resignations, which included senior editors such as Jonathan Cohn, Julia Ioffe and Alec MacGillis.

Ioffe wrote about her resignation in a post on Facebook.

“Today, I did something I thought I’d never do and quit The New Republic,” she wrote. “It has been, hands down, the happiest, most satisfying, most intellectually stimulating place I’ve ever worked and my colleagues were, hands down, the most competent, talented, and decent people in the business.”

She also warned that Hughes and Vidra will put their spin on the resignations.

“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,” Ioffe wrote. “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.”

New York Times reporter Ravi Somaiya later tweeted out a handful of more resignations.

By friday afternoon, the number of reported resignations had swelled to 45.

As of 10:30 a.m. ET, none of those editors had been removed from TNR’s masthead.

TNR’s website still hasn’t published any new articles on Friday, and its Twitter feed has gone dormant.

This post has been updated.

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