Over 50 New Republic staffers and contributors stepped down this week after word got out that Hughes and CEO Guy Vidra were in talks to replace top editor Franklin Foer with former Atlantic Wire editor Gabriel Snyder. Foer and storied literary critic Leon Wieseltier resigned Thursday in light of this news, with senior editors such as Jonathan Cohn and Julie Ioffe and contributing editors like The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza and New York magazine's Jonathan Chait following suit.
Hughes lashed out at the departing journalists in a Washington Post op-ed.
"Former editors and writers who claim in an open letter that the New Republic should not be a business would prefer an institution that looks backward more often than forward and does not challenge itself to experiment with new business models and new ways to tell important stories," he wrote. "If you really care about an institution and want to make it strong for the ages, you don’t walk out. You roll up your sleeves, you redouble your commitment to those ideals in a changing world, and you fight. This 100-year-old story is worth fighting for."
Still, Hughes said that he "was sad to see them go and regret much of how it happened."
Hughes and Vidra riled members of the media on Thursday when they announced their place to rebrand the magazine as a "vertically integrated digital media company." They also revealed that they would be reducing the number of yearly issues published from 20 to 10. On Friday, a group of former editors and writers provided HuffPost with a statement:
The New Republic cannot be merely a “brand.” It has never been and cannot be a “media company” that markets “content.” Its essays, criticism, reportage, and poetry are not “product.” It is not, or not primarily, a business. It is a voice, even a cause. It has lasted through numerous transformations of the “media landscape”—transformations that, far from rendering its work obsolete, have made that work ever more valuable.
The New Republic is a kind of public trust. That is something all its previous owners and publishers understood and respected. The legacy has now been trashed, the trust violated.
The magazine canceled its December issue in light of the shakeup. According to The New York Times, several writers have asked that their work be pulled from the next issue.