Chris Hughes, Facebook co-founder and new media guru, is trying out a considerably older media endeavor: He’s purchased the nearly 100-year-old political magazine The New Republic.
Hughes told The New York Times that his focus would be on updating the magazine’s Web and mobile presence for tablet, such as the iPad, readers. He said he does not intend to end the print publication of The New Republic, but noted, “five to 10 years from now, if not sooner, the vast majority of The New Republic readers are likely to be reading it on a tablet.”
The 28-year-old Hughes doesn’t just bring his entrepreneurial Web experience to the job — he also earned his political chops working as the director of online organizing for President Obama’s 2008 campaign. Though the terms of the deal remain undisclosed, Hughes purchased a majority stake in the magazine, and will assume the title of publisher and editor-in-chief. Richard Just will remain editor.
Hughes posted a letter to readers on The New Republic’s Web site early Friday morning that read, in part:
It seems that today too many media institutions chase superficial metrics of online virality at the expense of investing in rigorous reporting and analysis of the most important stories of our time. When few people are investing in media institutions with such bold aims as “enlightenment to the problems of the nation,” I believe we must.
Many of us get our news from social networks, blogs, and daily aggregators. The web has introduced a competitive, and some might argue hostile, landscape for long, in-depth, resource-intensive journalism. But as we’ve seen with the rise of tablets and mobile reading devices, it is an ever-shifting landscape — one that I believe now offers opportunities to reinvigorate the forms of journalism that examine the challenges of our time in all their complexity. Although the method of delivery of important ideas has undergone drastic change over the past 15 years, the hunger for them has not dissipated.
The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi offers up his analysis of what the sale means for the publication.