January 12, 2016

"If you want to be a patron, be a patron. Don't kid yourself that you're running a business."

"Even when print was profitable, TNR and magazines like it weren't," says Virginia Postrel, criticizing Chris Hughes.

(Via a Facebook discussion that I linked to yesterday here.)

10 comments:

Terry said...

I get a kick out of the The New Yorker. The ghetto chic, the primal howls against the bourgeois and capitalism, and all the ads for things that workers not only can't afford, but probably didn't even know existed.

Big Mike said...

So TNR is about to join The Daily Worker in the trash heap of history. Why is this a big deal?

BDNYC said...

I agree with this, although I feel "patron" is putting it too generously. Owning a newspaper or magazine is a fantastic way to push an agenda or serve your other business interests. It is unregulated political spending/lobbying. No one cares to point this out unless your last name is Koch.

For a guy like Hughes, whose husband has/had political ambitions, it was a smart bet. TNR could have boosted his husband's influence and prestige but unfortunately his husband failed miserably on his end of the bargain.

RichardJohnson said...

Big Mike:
So TNR is about to join The Daily Worker in the trash heap of history. Why is this a big deal?

What makes it a big deal is that TNR was once a thoughtful magazine, instead of a propaganda rag. While Hughes accelerated TNR's descent into propaganda rag, the descent had begun well before he purchased TNR.

glenn said...

Stephen Glass
Stephen Glass
Stephen Glass
Stephen Glass
Stephen Glass

mikee said...

In college I'd read TNR, The Progressive, Mother Jones, National Review, The Economist, and other publications and compare their reporting on news of the day.

It made me a conservative, comparing the same story reported by a liberal progressive and a constitutional conservative, back then.

I'd recommend it for anyone today, as well. The deranged left decries the right for demanding things like respect for individual rights and governmental adherence to laws. The deranged right decries the left for supporting the destruction of the United States. I've made my choice. Make yours.

RichardJohnson said...

mikee
In college I'd read TNR, The Progressive, Mother Jones, National Review, The Economist, and other publications and compare their reporting on news of the day.

I did much the same. I got a surprise one time when reading National Review. There was a letter to the editor from an Ivy League student- the younger brother of one of my high school classmates. He said that as a conservative, he had been treated in a civil manner by his lefty fellow students- not something as likely to occur today.

I later found out that his parents were also conservatives. This surprised me, as his parents of the Jewish faith had fled Hitler's Germany. His parents didn't view Hitler as a conservative, but as a radical. While Jews may not have had a perfect existence in Weimar Germany, it was much better than what followed. Hitler took office vowing to change everything, and he did just that.

Zach said...

Being a patron might be one of those tougher than it looks like deals. You've still got to choose the editorial team and the overall budget, which are the two things that are easiest to screw up. So unless you know enough potential chief editors to have a strong preference about which one you want, the chances of making an unfixable mistake are high.

William F. Buckley was his own chief editor. Unless you're willing to have that kind of commitment, owning a small political magazine is likely to be a disappointing experience.

Zach said...

Trying to aggressively monetize a small political magazine also strikes me as very tough. Political commentary on the web is a saturated market, and a magazine is always going to be a few days or weeks behind the issues that drive clickbait.

The traditional model is that the owner has a strong editorial voice, runs the magazine as a break even operation, and takes profit in the form of advancing their political perspective.

Money is no substitute for having something to say.

Zach said...

I don't think it has anything to do with progressive politics -- you'd run into the same issues if a conservative billionaire tried to turn the National Review into a media empire.