The New Republic’s executives announced Thursday a massive overhaul that will result in the magazine reducing its physical output to just ten issues a year, one of many major changes to the 100-year-old magazine, which is also losing its top editors. And the magazine, long a mainstay of Washington’s journalism world, is moving its center of gravity to New York.
Franklin Foer, who edited the New Republic from 2006 and 2010, and returned in 2012 after its purchase by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, announced his resignation today. Also departing is longtime literary editor Leon Wieseltier, and reportedly other writers and editors further down the masthead. Gabriel Snyder, a veteran of Atlantic Media and Gawker, will take over as editor.
Foer writes in a memo that he is resigning because his vision for the magazine does not align with the goals of Hughes and new chief executive officer, Guy Vidra.
“I’ve always had a hard time imagining leaving here,” Foer writes. “That moment, however, has arrived. Chris and Guy have significant plans for this place. And their plans and my own vision for TNR meaningfully diverge.”
The New Republic just marked its 100th anniversary with a gala at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium during which Foer and Wieseltier both gave speeches praising the magazine’s durability even through its current ownership.
“Welcome the future, but do not worship it,” Wieseltier said that night. “We are not just incubators and innovators, but also stewards.”
Behind those remarks, though, it appears the New Republic was on the brink of the kind of massive editorial shakeup that often follows a change in a publication’s ownership. In a memo to the magazine’s remaining employees, Vidra writes that Snyder will help lead a “re-imagining” of the magazine into a “vertically integrated digital media company.” Besides Gawker and Atlantic Media, where he launched the now-defunct Atlantic Wire website, Snyder has also worked for the New York Observer. Since March, he has overseen digital ventures at Bloomberg Media.
“As we restructure The New Republic, we will be making significant investments in creating a more effective and efficient newsroom as well as improved products across all platforms,” Vidra writes. “This will require a recalibration of our resources in order to deliver the best product possible. In order to do so, we’ve made the decision to reduce the frequency of our print publication from 20 to 10 issues a year and will be making improvements to the magazine itself.”
Vidra does not spell out what those improvements will be, but more staff cuts appear to be in the offing. “Given the frequency reduction, we will also be making some changes to staff structure,” he writes. The magazine will hold an “all-hands” meeting on Friday to discuss more details of its future as a “brand” that reflects the “straddle generation” of journalism, to use Vidra’s terminology.
Vidra’s full memo:
To All Staff,
I want to share some news about forthcoming changes at The New Republic.
As you’ve heard, Frank Foer is leaving the company. We are excited to announce that Gabriel Snyder will assume the role of Editor-in-Chief. In addition, Leon Wieseltier will be moving on.
In his time here, Frank has led a meaningful expansion of our team, has done a terrific job advancing the mission of our storied institution, and has continued to insert The New Republic’s voice into the national discourse. We wish him nothing but the best and are very grateful for all he’s done.
As we move forward under Gabriel’s leadership, we are re-imagining The New Republic as a vertically integrated digital media company. Gabriel is ideally suited to bridge traditional journalism and digital media. He is committed – as am I – to The New Republic’s mission of impact, influence and persuasion, but understands that fulfilling that mission in today’s media landscape requires new forms. He truly reflects the “straddle generation” of journalists and editors who remain deeply rooted in the qualities of traditional journalism – having worked with brands such as the New York Observer and The Atlantic – but also understands what it takes to create content that will travel across all platforms. We believe he is the right person to help us to maintain the core DNA of The New Republic, while propelling us forward to the 21st century.
Leon has made an unsurpassed contribution to The New Republic over the last 30 years, and the qualities that he represents are the beating heart of this brand. He is quite frankly an institution unto himself whose indelible mark on this place will never go away.
As we restructure The New Republic, we will be making significant investments in creating a more effective and efficient newsroom as well as improved products across all platforms. This will require a recalibration of our resources in order to deliver the best product possible. In order to do so, we’ve made the decision to reduce the frequency of our print publication from 20 to 10 issues a year and will be making improvements to the magazine itself.
Given the frequency reduction, we will also be making some changes to staff structure. This is not a decision we make lightly, but we believe this restructuring is critical to the long-term success of the company. We will be holding an all-hands meeting tomorrow to help answer any questions or concerns you may have.
And lastly – as some of you may know – we will be moving to a newly re-designed, expanded office in New York’s Union Square. New York was the original home of The New Republic, and we’re thrilled to further expand our presence here.
These are exciting times for our company which will demand change. We are committed to the roots of this magazine – an experiment in opinion to help address the challenges of our time. We can only do this together.
Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.