Do you know the name of the publisher of Reason magazine? Of course you (probably) don't; it's Mike Alissi. And while Alissi's value to the magazine and the 501©3 that publishes it deserves to be commemorated in High Elvish verse for dozens of generations hence, he will generally not be polluting the pages of The Washington Post any time soon with lousy crisis-management op-eds, as The New Republic's Chris Hughes did this evening.
As we round into our finishing kick of Reason's annual Webathon, in which we spend a week rattling the cup for $200,000 in tax-deductible donations in order to bring you even better journalism in the defense of Free Minds and Free Markets, it's worth marveling at how the media world continues to experience a loud nervous breakdown over an opinion magazine that had a circulation lower than Reason's by more than 10,000 when Hughes bought its dessicated husk back in 2012.
TNR was launched a century ago by some of the best young progressive minds Harvard ever produced, bankrolled by some handy East Coast cajillionaires. National Review arrived 40 years later, launched by an oil tycoon's son whose first book was called God & Man at Yale and whose second was a full-throated defense of Joseph McCarthy. The Weekly Standard plopped on the market 20 years ago, care of a second-generation neoconservative think-magazine guy who had also graduated from Harvard. When elite political chatterers talk about these magazines—and they really can't stop, particularly about the one of the troika whose politics maps more comfortably onto their own—they are in many ways really talking about themselves, or perhaps their idealized belle-lettrist alter egos.
Reason? As mentioned here in my last New Republic post, we were founded by a visionary Boston University undergraduate no one Important had ever heard of, then quickly decamped to the media capital of, uh, Santa Barbara? (Read Senior Editor Brian Doherty's terrific 2008 oral history for more crazy stories from ye olden days.) Very few people in Manhattan and Adams-Morgan identified with this weirdo P.O.V. and life-history—though the ones that did, like future Wired co-founder Louis Rossetto, were better than a busful of Harvard social-climbers (as if they'd ever take mass transit, har har). Despite our shinier profile nowadays, you can bet that a sudden convulsion in our staffbox would hardly be misconstrued in the media as some kind of watershed moment for journalism, policy, or America herself.
As importantly, we don't have those kinds of convulsions. And even if we did, we wouldn't insult the intelligence of all y'all by having Mike Alissi soil himself like Chris Hughes did tonight.
Hughes—the former Facebook manchild who was the social-media director of Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, and celebrated the first redesigned issue under his ownership with an embarrassingly softball Q&A (pictured) he co-conducted with the president—writes like Obama talks: in a blizzard of "false choice"s. Here's how he starts:
Last week, about a dozen members of the editorial staff of the New Republic walked out in protest over new leadership. By their account, this was a clash of cultures: Silicon Valley versus tradition, and everyone must choose a side. I believe this dangerously oversimplifies a debate many journalistic institutions are having today.
Yeah, or maybe people thought hiring your editor's replacement before letting your editor know was kind of a chump move?
More blather in that vein:
Those who have watched the recent evolution in media know the dichotomy between techy buzzwords and tradition is a false choice. Journalists across the industry are using new techniques to tell vital stories and make passionate arguments. Innovation is happening in traditional newsrooms like the New York Times and The Post and at start-ups such as Vox and Politico. The New Republic should and will be mentioned in the same breath.
The New Republic's future will be in both digital and print, and it will mean aspiring to be a strong and sustainable institution that constantly challenges itself to adapt.
And if you think the jargon-to-English ratio is bad there, check out this awful memo from Hughes' head dude at the operation.
Look, we keep it simple here at Reason: Don't pretend we have the magic formula to suddenly convert opinion-magazining into a profitable enterprise, don't write like Barack Obama talks, don't use the word "sustainable" except (maybe) at gunpoint. Instead of insult our readers' intelligence (at least directly!), we learn from them every day, particularly—though not only—in matters of men's fashion. As a result, among other things we won't be missing our next issue.
So give $10, $100, or $10,000. Donate in dollars, Bitcoin, or chunks from your estate. If your gift is in three figures, we'll shout you out on Facebook and Twitter and on the donation-banner thingie (though only with your consent!). Two-fitty gets you (among other swag) the coolest damned Reason beanie you'll ever see; twice that nets you Damon Root's marvelous Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court. Higher levels get you higher-grade stuff.
So DONATE RIGHT THE HELL NOW. Nothing false about that choice!