The New Republic is about to get a new owner, The New York Times reported, and it’s the best kind the influential but unprofitable title could hope for: a well-connected proprieter with a deep interest in supporting long-form journalism—and plenty of money to do so. Chris Hughes is a 28-year-old who was one of the people who founded Facebook. He went on to make a fortune in the tech world and is reportedly worth $700 million.
Hughes, who also worked on Obama’s presidential campaign, told the Times he would expand the reporting and analysis the magazine produces and help remake it for the digital age by extending its distribution to tablets like the iPad.
Hughes will become the magazine's publisher and editor-in-chief. The editor, Richard Just, will remain in that position. Marty Peretz, the magazine’s longtime editor who became editor-in-chief emeritus in 2010, will become a member of the advisory board.
The New Republic has been far more influential than its size would suggest (its circulation is about 50,000). Founded by Walter Lippmann nearly 100 years ago, it has published such writers as George Orwell and Virginia Wolff.
Hughes told the Times that he was interested in preserving the magazine’s editorial legacy and that “profit per se” was not his motive, words that would be music to the ears of long-form journalists.
Other small but influential publications that were bought by deep-pocketed owners, like The Atlantic and The New York Observer, have found the patronage doesn’t last forever, though.
“I believe in and admire his mission,” said Jay Lauf, publisher of The Atlantic. “But if his mission is as stated, you cannot divorce the noble mission of nurturing and fostering these journalistic institutions from fiscal realities.”