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Topics In the News
Chris Hughes Acquires The New Republic
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 03/09/12
Last updated on: 03/09/12
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Chris Hughes (left) with fiance Sean Eldgridge.

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who helped run the online media operation for President Obama's 2008 campaign, has purchased a majority stake in The New Republic, the liberal journal of opinion.

Brian Stelter and Michael J. De La Merced report in the New York Times that Hughes will become publisher and editor-in-chief of the magazine and current editor Richard Just will remain as editor. Former editor-in-chief Martin Peretz will become a member of the publication's advisory board.

Hughes said he was motivated by an interest in "the future of high-quality long-form journalism" and by an instinct that such journalism was a natural fit for tablet computers like the iPad. He said he would "expand the amount of rigorous reporting and solid analysis" that the magazine produces and that, while he does not intend to end the printed publication, he expects that "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."

It is expected that Hughes' purchase of the venerable magazine will infuse the enterprise with some much needed financial stability. Asked how he would turn a profit for the money-losing magazine, Hughes replied, "Profit per se is not my motive. The reason I'm getting involved here is that I believe in the type of vigorous contextual journalism that we . . . as a society need."

He added that he hoped the magazine could be profitable. "But I'm investing and taking control of The New Republic because of my belief in its mission, not to make it the next Facebook."

The New Republic was founded in 1914 by the political journalist Walter Lippmann. The magazine has long been associated with liberal politics, although in recent years, under the editorship of Andrew Sullivan and Martin Peretz, it has often veered in a conservative direction, especially in its early support of the Iraq War (for which it apologized in 2003) and its steadfast and sometimes uncritical support of Israel.

In a post on The New Republic website, Hughes said that he shares the vision of the magazine's founders, who saw a need "for a magazine of informed opinion and insightful, thorough reporting."

"I share their vision. 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."

Acknowledging that "The web has introduced a competitive, and some might argue hostile, landscape for long, in-depth, resource-intensive journalism," he nevertheless affirmed his belief that it "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."

He said that while the magazine will remain devoted to progressive values, it will also appeal to independent thinkers on the left and the right who search for fresh ideas and a deeper understanding of the challenges our world faces."

"In the next era of The New Republic," he pledged, "we will aggressively adapt to the newest information technologies without sacrificing our commitment to serious journalism. We will look to tell the most important stories in politics and the arts and provide the type of rigorous analysis that The New Republic has been known for. We will ask pressing questions of our leaders, share groundbreaking new ideas, and shed new light on the state of politics and culture."

Hughes and his fiance Sean Eldridge, who is political director of Freedom to Marry, have been passionate advocates and generous donors to the cause of marriage equality.

In 2011, Hughes told Ari Karpel of The Advocate that he and Eldridge "both want to have a serious impact on the world" and so are following the example of Tim Gill of the Gill Foundation and Jon Stryker of the Arcus Foundation, who support both glbtq rights and other progressive causes.

The couple plan to wed in June 2012. Their plans include an intimate ceremony at their home in Garrison, New York, followed by an elaborate reception that evening in New York City at Cipriani Wall Street.

In the video below from December 2010, Hughes and Eldridge announce a matching gift to the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

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