Mass Resignations at The New Republic: Journalists Attempt to Disrupt 'Disruptive Innovation' Yahoo
I first came across this story last night via Dylan Byer's piece, “Implosion of a Washington Institution,” on the Politico site. It was a trickle then. Aujourd'hui? Le deluge.
Background: In March 2012, Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook (played by Patrick Mapel in the movie), bought The New Republic, a venerable, left-leaning, DC-based, long-form magazine. His plans? From The New York Times back then:
Mr. Hughes said he was motivated by an interest in “the future of high-quality long-form journalism” and by an instinct that such journalism was a natural fit for tablets. He said he would “expand the amount of rigorous reporting and solid analysis” that the magazine produces.
This September he hired Guy Vidra, the general manager of Yahoo News, as his CEO, and Vidra didn't say those things. Even in TNR's press release that day, Vidra talked up the following: “new products,” “new categories,” “new approaches.”
He kept his word. From Byer:
In meetings with staff, he spoke of the magazine as though it were a Silicon Valley startup, sources said. He talked about 'disruption' and said he wanted to 'break shit.' He referred to himself as a 'wartime CEO.' At one point, he proposed giving every employee shares in the company, suggesting that he had plans to make it public.
Sources said that Vidra also showed little regard for [editor Franklin] Foer or his writers. In a meeting held in November, he made it clear to staff that he found the magazine boring and had stopped reading longform articles. Three weeks later, at the magazine’s 100-year anniversary gala — a star-studded, black-tie affair featuring speeches from former President Bill Clinton and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Vidra mispronounced Foer’s name while introducing him to the audience. (He pronounced “Foer” as “Foyer.”)
Yesterday, it was announced that both Foer and longtime literary editor Leon Wieseltier were leaving.
Also this, per Ryan Lizza.
Will be interesting to see where it all goes. I wouldn't mind it going further. I wouldn't mind it disrupting the disruptive innovators in more industries.
- Friday, 11 AM: Update from Andrew Sullivan.