Following last week’s resignation of The New Republic editor Franklin Foer and resulting staff exodus, the magazine’s owner, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, has issued a lengthy response by way of an opinion piece in The Washington Post.
In the piece, Hughes denies that the editorial turmoil was simply due to a "clash of cultures" between Silicon Valley and traditional media. "Those who have watched the recent evolution in media know the dichotomy between techy buzzwords and tradition is a false choice," he wrote, adding that TNR "should and will be mentioned in the same breath" as digitally innovative newsrooms from The New York Times and The Post to Vox and Politico.
"If we wanted to chase traffic with listicles and slide shows, we would have," he wrote. "Instead, I have spent the last two and a half years supporting an institution whose mission I believe in and investing millions of dollars into its singular journalism so that it can continue to be influential and important.
"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. This 100-year-old story is worth fighting for."
Hughes also lashed out at a strongly worded statement published last week by a group of former TNR editors, including Sidney Blumenthal and Andrew Sullivan, in which they expressed their "dismay and sorrow at [the magazine’s] destruction in all but name."
"Former editors and writers who claim in an open letter that the New Republic should not be a business 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," Hughes wrote in response.
More than 50 staffers have followed Foer out the door of TNR since his resignation last week. As a result, magazine was forced to cancel its upcoming Dec. 15 issue.
"As you know, an issue that was in production by recently departed editors and writers … was left unfinished," Vidra wrote in a memo to staffers last weekend. "Despite the incredible work you all are doing, going forward with the issue would run the risk of falling short of this institution’s renowned high standards."
Some of the departing writers went so far as to request that their work be pulled from the issue, the New York Times reported.
The magazine’s next issue will be published on Feb. 2.