Just after celebrating its 100th anniversary, The New Republic has lost its top two editors, as Frank Foer and Leon Wieseltier resigned their posts, in the face of pressure from owner Chris Hughes to dramatically revamp the magazine. Gabriel Snyder, formerly of Gawker, Bloomberg and The Atlantic Wire, will be the new editor, as TNR looks to become, in Hughes’s phrase, “a digital media company.” And more changes are on the way: the publication will reportedly be cutting its print frequency from 20 to 10 issues a year, and moving to New York City. This was Foer’s second stint as editor, while Wieseltier had shepherded the magazine’s storied literary section for three decades.
The reaction to the news from journalists and commentators has alternated between shock and outrage. “The entire staff is up in arms,” said one TNR staffer. “I expect most of the senior editors to quit, the entire roster of contributing editors to resign.” He added that mass resignations are being organized at the office.
“Awful to hear @FranklinFoer and Leon Wieseltier are out at @tnr,” tweeted New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker. “There are no better journalists out there. Time to cancel the subscription.” TNR contributor Michael Tomasky added a dig at Facebook co-founder and TNR owner Hughes: “Moving TNR to NYC eh? How do people so dumb get so rich?” Other former TNR writers chimed in. “You don’t bench hall-of-famers,” said Daily Beast writer Daniel Gross. “[T]his is a devastating day for american cultural life. I can’t put into words how sad and angry I am,” wrote literary critic Adam Plunkett. “Leon Wieseltier’s departure from The New Republic is a loss for the magazine, but a huge blow to public scholarship,” said Harvard history instructor Yoni Appelbaum. “Struggling to think of another venue in which academic work was conveyed so effectively to public audiences as in TNR’s back-of-the-book.”
“The New Republic has been one of the great loves of my life–a set of ideas, a history, a collection of people I revere,” Foer wrote in his resignation memo to the staff. “I will miss everyone here immensely.”