Benedict Options and New Republics

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There’s not much to add all the commentary about The New Republic being put out to pasture. Ezra Klein has about the best summary of it all that I’ve come across, and have noting that, “Now [Chris] Hughes is putting the magazine back up for sale.” Klein goes on to quote Hughes’ letter to his soon to be ex-employees:

I will be the first to admit that when I took on this challenge nearly four years ago, I underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate,” Hughes wrote in an article that, oddly, was published on Medium rather than the New Republic’s web site.

Klein then observes:

TNR’s problems have been largely being laid at Hughes’s doorstep. And, to some degree, that’s fair. Transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company is hard, but it’s not as hard as Hughes made it look….

Hughes believed his charge was to make TNR a viable web publication, in a world where viability — and, arguably, influence — requires web traffic. That meant publishing more, publishing faster, and publishing the kinds of quick hits and aggregations that help build audience on the cheap.

In a strange sentence on his Medium post, Hughes writes, “Even though our search for a workable business model has come up short, we have shown that digital journalism isn’t at odds with quality and depth.” But if digital journalism of quality and depth is at odds with a workable business model, then digital journalism of quality and depth won’t survive.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of lessons might be learned from this by those who choose the Benedict Option.  Where Klein writes–“Transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company is hard“–one can imagine Rod Dreher & Co. similarly observing:

….transitioning an old and traditional American church into a twenty-first century life-changing, life-preserving institution will be hard……

 


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