By: Kate Cyr Nowadays it is almost a golden rule that print media is in decline, shoved out of the way for the new, instantaneous digital journalism. Newspapers and magazines all over the country, not to mention the world, are cutting staff and circulations. The Christian Science Monitor has stopped publishing a weekday paper, and Time, Inc., has announced hundreds of job cuts.[i]
Yet one particular magazine has caught my attention. Not because it covers something super radical and different than any other political magazine I would read, but because of how it is currently run.
The New Republic has been around since 1914. It’s a fortnightly publication that covers politics, foreign policy, and topics of general interest to the public. They claim to be “uniquely positioned to cover public affairs” and “known for their uncanny ability to get at the important stories long before they reach other media.”[ii] The New Republic, like many print media, has suffered declining circulation for years. It has changed hands multiple times in this decade alone. [iii]
Why then, do I pick TNR? Because in March, things turned around for the magazine when a young man named Chris Hughes purchased it. Chris Hughes, the 28-year-old gay activist, liberal-minded almost-billionaire who coordinated Barack Obama’s online campaign….oh, and was a co-founder of Facebook.[iv]
That Chris Hughes.
This unique combination of the most traditional of traditional print journalism and a groundbreaking Internet entrepreneur (the newest of the new) is what drew me to TNR. I’ll admit to having a similar opinion about print media as a seventy-year-old, bow-tie wearing professor. However, I will allow that digital media has its perks, especially because I am of the digital generation. Watching the takeover has allowed my nerdy, curmudgeon-y side to meet my 18-year-old worldview in the middle.
Though The New Republic’s print circulation is still declining, its website hits have increased exponentially. Congressional Representatives and Senators, as well as Obama, receive every copy of TNR.[v] Some critics of TNR had complained the magazine was leaning too far right and betraying its liberal roots, but after Chris Hughes took the reigns, I’ve seen it return to its more liberal footing. TNR is still a name to be reckoned with in the upper levels of anyone involved in or following politics. It almost seems to me that Chris Hughes’ innovations have made TNR revert to its old, reliable, pre-digital self…at least in its fundamentals.
As for other tried-and-true print news sources, the picture is similar to that of TNR. USA Today (and the rest of parent Gannet Co.’s smaller holdings) is headed for the history books, and it’s not alone. Other major news corporations like The Washington Post and The New York Times have taken the same route as TNR: a hybrid of online and print media.[vi] Most of the newspapers are being eclipsed by smaller blog-like online publications like the Huffington Post, or, God forbid, TV and their companion sites (yes, you, CNN). Even this little rag would have been printed twenty years ago, and now we’re exclusively a blog (at least for the moment).
Though I examine The New Republic closely, this phenomenon is global. Haaretz, an Israeli political publication, also follows the print-and-digital hybrid model, as does France’s Le Monde and the Egyptian publication Egypt Independent. TNR is an interesting example of how the two interact, but by no means is the current age of news publication solely American. TNR and its counterparts may serve as a blueprint to magazines and newspapers already partaking the trend towards dual publication.
It seems glaringly obvious that online components are both helping and hurting old print circulations. The Internet has been guilty of ripping down and then saving numerous influential print publications. So let the pessimists herald in the death of print media. I, on the other hand, root for the hybrid publications, especially those in need of support.
Chris Hughes, I wish you the best of luck.
[i] Carr, David. "Mourning Old Media's Decline." The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 Oct. 2008. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/29/business/media/29carr.html?_r=0>
[ii] "About TNR | The New Republic." The New Republic. The New Republic, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. <http://www.tnr.com/about-tnr>.
[iii] Waldman, Paul. "The Future of The New Republic." The Daily Beast. Newsweek/Daily Beast, 06 Mar. 2009. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2009/03/06/is-the-new-republic-a-toxic-asset.html>.
[iv] Solomon, Brian. "Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes Marries Longtime Boyfriend." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 02 July 2012. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2012/07/02/facebook-co-founder-chris-hughes-marries-longtime-boyfriend/>.
[v] "The New Republic Overview." The New Republic. The New Republic, 2012. Web. 7 Oct. 2012. <http://www.tnr.com/sites/default/files/TNR%202012%20Media%20Kit_0.pdf>.
[vi] Knapp, Emily. "Wall St. Cheat Sheet." Wall St. Cheat Sheet. Wall St. Cheat Sheet, 30 Jan. 2012. Web. 07 Oct. 2012. <http://wallstcheatsheet.com/breaking-news/the-decline-and-fall-of-print-media.html/>.