Drafted on July 8, 1865, and distributed to potential donors and subscribers, The Nation’s founding prospectus reads, “The week has been singularly barren of exciting events.” It’s an aphorism the editors of the country’s oldest weekly magazine like to cite, an early promise to resist sensationalism amid a media landscape that, even then, tended toward hyperbole.
Today The Nation -- long known as the “flagship of the left” -- marks its 150th anniversary with a special issue. Clocking in at 268 pages, the edition contains archival material from the publication’s most illustrious contributors, including Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Henry James, John Steinbeck and W.E.B. Du Bois.
A section on “radical futures,” with essays from Noam Chomsky, Toni Morrison, Rebecca Solnit and David Zirin, offers proposals for moving national politics to the left, reviving the labor movement and ensuring universal access to education.
“150 years as America’s oldest continuously published news weekly is a thrilling, if daunting, accomplishment,” says Editor-in-Chief Katrina vanden Heuvel. “The one constant in The Nation’s history has been faith -- not in political parties or policies, but in what can happen when you tell people the truth.”
The Nation’s identity as a “radical” publication, however, belies its growing influence and visibility, particularly on cable news. MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris-Perry are both contributors, and Nation writers are frequent guests on the network. While its subscriber base has slipped in recent years, it grew considerably during the presidency of George W. Bush, ballooning to 180,000 subscribers.
The full anniversary issue is available online.