New Republic Owner Blasts Editors Who Quit
Chris Hughes says if 'you really care ... you roll up your sleeves'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2014 12:05 PM CST
Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook and publisher/owner of the "New Republic," has strong opinions about the future direction of the magazine.   (Gartnervideo)

(Newser) – Twenty of the 50-plus staff members and contributing editors who quit the New Republic on Friday penned an open letter to Chris Hughes—the Facebook co-founder who purchased the magazine in 2012—and other management to express their "dismay and sorrow at [the magazine's] destruction in all but name," the Huffington Post reports. Hughes rebutted last night in the Washington Post, with highlights below:

  • His take on technology and how he plans to use it in the magazine—a major sticking point between himself and his staff: "New technologies and start-ups excite and animate me," he says, but he doesn't feel like "technological progress is pre-ordained or good for everyone." He insists he doesn't want to harness tech innovation to totally "transform" the New Republic, but simply to "develop and amplify its influence."
  • Hughes assures readers that editorial quality won't suffer: "If we wanted to chase traffic with listicles and slide shows, we would have. … Instead, I have spent the last two and a half years … investing millions of dollars into [the magazine's] singular journalism so that it can continue to be influential and important."

  • He scoffs at editors' insistence that the magazine is simply "a kind of public trust" that "is not primarily a business." They "would prefer an institution that looks backward more often than forward and does not challenge itself to experiment with new business models and new ways to tell important stories," he responds.
  • Hughes minimizes the effect of those he feels left him in the lurch for the December issue (which he had to cancel after the editor exodus, the New York Times reports), saying, "The New Republic is much larger than myself or any single individual. Despite what has been suggested, the vast majority of our staff remain."
  • His final jab is at the resignees' work ethic and dedication: "If you really care about an institution and want to make it strong for the ages, you don't walk out. You roll up your sleeves, you redouble your commitment to those ideals in a changing world, and you fight."
Read his entire open letter.