At the Columbia Journalism Review, David Uberti and Chris Ip check in on The New Republic three months after the 100-year-old liberal magazine suffered a mass staff walkout that claimed 23 of its editors and writers. In the wake of the exodus, which caused the publication’s December issue to be postponed to February, there was no shortage of (largely self-serving) eulogies from New Republic alums about the magazine’s hallowed place in the history of American progressive journalism.
But not everyone was heartbroken at the shake-up, most notably The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote about The New Republic's less-than-glowing history on racial issues -- the outlet published an infamous piece in the 1990s arguing that differences in IQ measurements between blacks and whites were based in genetics -- and total lack of diversity on staff.
On that front, new editor-in-chief Gabriel Snyder, who pledged in an editor’s note to cultivate "new voices and experts [who] will be diverse in race, gender, and background," has made inroads. Uberti and Ip counted the number of minorities on the 35-member staff before the shake-up, which was easy because there were none. (CJR only counted full-time writers and editors on the masthead, leaving out production and design staff.) But, two months into Snyder’s tenure, the number of racial/ethnic minorities on staff has jumped from zero to five on a staff of 21.
Gender equity has improved as well: The old New Republic had 13 women on a staff of 35, while 10 of the magazine’s staffers are now women.
Perhaps most surprising for an institution that, traditionally, drew heavily from the ranks of Harvard and Yale grads, most members of the new staff are not Ivy-Leaguers.
All this goes to show that some traditions are worth breaking.