Home News: A Letter to TNR Readers from Chris Hughes

by Chris Hughes | March 9, 2012

To the Readers of The New Republic:

Nearly 100 years ago, the founding editors of The New Republic wrote these words to introduce their inaugural issue:

The New Republic is frankly an experiment. It is an attempt to find national audience for a journal of interpretation and opinion. Many people believe that such a journal is out of place in America; that if a periodical is to be popular, it must first of all be entertaining, or that if it is to be serious, it must be detached and select.
Yet when the plan of The New Republic was being discussed it received spontaneous welcome from people in all parts of the country. They differed in theories and programmes; but they agreed that if The New Republic could bring sufficient enlightenment to the problems of the nation and sufficient sympathy to its complexities, it would service all those who feel the challenge of our time.

A century later, people are once again skeptical that quality journalism can flourish. Technology’s disruption of traditional forms of media has led many to believe that independent, thoughtful media institutions are on the decline and that there are not enough readers to support serious reporting and analysis.

But in 1914 the founders of The New Republic chose to strike out and pursue their vision in spite of the prevailing opinions of their time. They saw a need for a magazine of informed opinion and insightful, thorough reporting.

I share their vision. It seems that today too many media institutions chase superficial metrics of online virality at the expense of investing in rigorous reporting and analysis of the most important stories of our time. When few people are investing in media institutions with such bold aims as “enlightenment to the problems of the nation,” I believe we must.

Many of us get our news from social networks, blogs, and daily aggregators. The web has introduced a competitive, and some might argue hostile, landscape for long, in-depth, resource-intensive journalism. But as we’ve seen with the rise of tablets and mobile reading devices, it is an ever-shifting landscape—one that I believe now offers opportunities to reinvigorate the forms of journalism that examine the challenges of our time in all their complexity. Although the method of delivery of important ideas has undergone drastic change over the past 15 years, the hunger for them has not dissipated.

In the next era of The New Republic, we will aggressively adapt to the newest information technologies without sacrificing our commitment to serious journalism. We will look to tell the most important stories in politics and the arts and provide the type of rigorous analysis that The New Republic has been known for. We will ask pressing questions of our leaders, share groundbreaking new ideas, and shed new light on the state of politics and culture.

The New Republic has been and will remain a journal of progressive values, but it will above all aim to appeal to independent thinkers on the left and the right who search for fresh ideas and a deeper understanding of the challenges our world faces.

As the founding editors reminded their readers in 1914, the success of this endeavor ultimately depends on the public support of readers in search of “sound and disinterested thinking.” As long as there are readers who continue to crave that kind of journalism, we will aspire to serve them.

Chris Hughes

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief, The New Republic

 

Throughout TNR’s history, this publication’s animating ideal has been a belief in the value of high-minded magazine journalism: analysis, storytelling, criticism, and crusading that is witty, intelligent, moving, serious, and, perhaps above all, immensely fun to read. It’s the reason that generations of readers have fallen in love with the magazine, and the reason that the people who work here are so passionate about what we do. When I became the editor of TNR in late 2010, I said that I wanted to double-down on this ideal of beautifully crafted journalism. At a time when everyone else was writing quicker and shorter, or emphasizing aggregation, I wanted us to be the publication that, more than any other, fought for an idealistic vision of what magazine journalism can and should be. And, with every print issue that my amazing colleagues and I work on, with every edition of our daily web magazine that we put out, this is what we have been trying to do.

When I first met Chris in November of last year, I was immediately struck by how much he believed in this kind of journalism. About halfway through our lunch, it was clear to me that this was someone who should be involved with TNR. We continued to talk, and a few weeks later, I introduced him to Larry Grafstein, the chairman of our ownership group, who felt the same way. The end result is the announcement you are reading now.

For all of us at TNR—and, really, for anyone who believes in the enduring value of intellectual magazine journalism—this is a wonderful day. My colleagues and I can’t wait to work with Chris to bring the vision of magazine journalism we all share to more and more readers, and to continue the process of figuring out how this kind of journalism can thrive in the age of the Internet and the iPad. It’s a big challenge, but it’s the mission we’ve set for ourselves. And we couldn’t be more excited to pursue that mission with Chris.

Richard Just

Editor, The New Republic

 

We are delighted to welcome Chris Hughes to the top of The New Republic masthead. As we approach the centennial year of this remarkable institution, we believe that he will bring extraordinary talent and commitment to the ideas and causes we value. He not only has a track record of success but also possesses a keen appreciation of our calling. With Chris’s leadership TNR will pursue its longstanding, ongoing mission of helping to define liberalism while contributing to the American project. You will all enjoy getting to know him and you will learn, as we have, that he is a special individual.

TNR has been fortunate over the decades to have enjoyed superb stewardship. I would personally like to thank Bill Ackman, Michael Alter, Gerry Cardinale, Allen Chin, John Driscoll, Gary Mueller, Mike Rancilio, Eric Schwartz, and Charles Stevenson for their counsel and support these last few years. While the outstanding work you see comes from the splendid editorial staff led by Richard Just and Leon Wieseltier, these Advisory Board members have shepherded TNR through the toughest media environment in memory and enabled it to emerge stronger than ever.

Of course, as we usher in an exciting new era we take a moment to express our collective gratitude to Martin Peretz, who has been and will continue to be a legendary force in American letters and, more than that, a wonderful friend. Under his guidance TNR has been left more often than right and right more often than wrong. Marty has also been a selfless mentor to generations of leading writers and editors. Si monumentum requiris, circumspice.

Laurence Grafstein

Chairman, TNR Advisory Board

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