In 1914, The New Republic was founded by the political journalist Walter Lippmann. Throughout its 98-year history, it has been a literary voice of the liberal movement, publishing the views of leading intellectuals, and reportedly read by U.S. Presidents, and influential policymakers throughout history. The magazine can easily be credited with helping to define modern American liberalism. Today, it is owned by a 28-year old co-founder of the social network, Facebook.
Chris Hughes started Facebook while at Harvard back in 2003 with his then roommate Mark Zuckerberg, and changed how 800 million people interact on the web. He then changed history as the leader of Barack Obama’s successful social media campaign efforts during the 2008 presidential campaign, raising record amounts of money, largely by organizing online communities. He’s now The New Republic’s latest majority shareholder, publisher and editor in chief.
Hughes says the purchase of the magazine was motivated by an interest in “the future of high-quality long-form journalism.” He said he would “expand the amount of rigorous reporting and solid analysis” that the magazine produces.
He also plans to bring the magazine to the iPad. Hughes sees distributing the magazine’s long-form journalism through tablet computers as the preferred mode of readership of the next generation, although the printed publication may not cease production for some time, “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,” he said.
The publication has seen significant decline over the years, dwindling down to a circulation of roughly 50,000 who read the magazine twice per month (down from its weekly publication schedule). The magazine has had three owners in the past five years
“Profit per se is not my motive,” Hughes told The New York Times. “The reason I’m getting involved here is that I believe in the type of vigorous contextual journalism that we — we in general as a society — need.” He said he was investing in the magazine “because of my belief in its mission, not to make it the next Facebook.”