January 14, 2015

The messy and public firing of New Republic editor Franklin Foer in December prompted a wave of resignations from staffers at the magazine who foreswore the leadership of incoming editor Gabriel Snyder.

A running tally of journalists who resigned in protest compiled by New Yorker correspondent Ryan Lizza included many from the upper ranks of the magazine. In Lizza’s in-depth documenting TNR’s implosion, it was clear that a tug-of-war over the company’s digital strategy between new management and the old guard was a source of much friction. Vidra wanted to build a “vertically integrated digital media company,” and staffers were worried that journalism would receive short shrift. Here’s an anonymous source in Lizza’s story:

The editors were hardly opposed to giving greater attention to digital media, but they came to believe that Hughes was losing interest in the actual content of T.N.R.’s journalism and cultural criticism. “The only compliment Chris or Guy ever said about a piece was that it ‘did well,’ or it ‘travelled well,’ ” one of the staffers who resigned said. “If we had published Nietzsche’s ‘Birth of Tragedy,’ the only question would be, ‘Did it travel well?’ ‘Yes, Wagner tweeted it.’”

In the months since, several the staffers from The New Republic have landed on their feet at companies that look very much like the ones Snyder and Vidra are trying to build. And they’re poised to do work similar to the work they did at TNR. Here are some examples:

Leon Wieseltier, formerly literary editor at The New Republic, is now a contributing editor and critic at The Atlantic.

Alec MacGillis, formerly a senior editor at The New Republic, is now a staff writer at Slate.

Greg Veis and Rachel Morris, both executive editors at The New Republic, have joined The Huffington Post to help the company produce longform journalism and investigations. They are joined by former New Republic writer Jonathan Cohn.

What will the reimagined New Republic look like? Shortly after the falling out with Foer and staff, New Republic CEO Guy Vidra told Poynter he didn’t want The New Republic to resemble BuzzFeed, but that he admired the explainer-driven site Vox greatly.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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