Our purpose is not simply to tell interesting stories, but to always ask why these stories matter and tie their reporting back to our readers. We hope to discern the hidden patterns, to connect the disparate facts, and to find the deeper meaning, a layer of understanding beyond the daily headlines.So writes Chris Hughes about the redesign of The New Republic, which I was cranky about yesterday, because it kicked off with a kissy interview with Barack Obama.
I must say, I'd never paid any attention to Chris Hughes before, and I didn't yesterday until pushed by my commenters. On the evidence of the interview he and Franklin Foer did with the President, I saw him as another media suckup doing Democratic Party politics under cover of journalism. Seeing this "free of party ideology or partisan bias" business now only inclines me to scoff. If that's what you wanted as your brand, why did you lead off with that interview?
But I realize I need to get up to speed on this Chris Hughes character. I didn't even bother to name him in yesterday's post, and I've only just made a tag for him now. Sorry, I didn't bother watching "The Social Network." To the extent that I follow celebrities, I'm not particularly drawn to new media businessmen. I can keep track of Mark Zuckerberg up to a point, but I've never paid attention to the lesser Facebookians.
Here's a HuffPo article from last March about Hughes's purchase of TNR, noting that he was "a key player in President Obama's online organizing efforts in 2008." Why would we expect this man — who's only 29, by the way — to strive to be free of party ideology or partisan bias? I've got to assume the striving is toward seeming to be free of party ideology and partisan bias, because that's what journalists always say they are doing when they have ideological and partisan goals.
Based on that interview with Obama, I'd say Hughes is not striving that hard or he's not good at what he's striving to do or — most likely — he only wants to appeal to Democrats, so he only wants to do enough to seem to be free of party ideology and partisan bias to Democrats. Is this enough to make our target audience feel good about the nourishment they're getting from this source? The good feeling is some combination of seeming like professional journalism while satisfying their emotional needs that are intertwined their political ideology and love of party.