Friday, March 9, 2012

The contradiction between mission and revenue in new media

A good example of the contradiction between staying true to your mission (especially a public-service mission) and being able to bring in revenue to support that mission (and pay professionals for serious work) in new media: a founder of Facebook with capital to spare has purchased a majority stake in a venerable political magazine, the New Republic.
The newest owner of The New Republic magazine is Chris Hughes, a new-media guru who co-founded Facebook and helped to run the online organizing machine for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
Mr. Hughes’s purchase of a majority stake in the magazine will be announced on Friday, once again remaking the masthead of the nearly century-old magazine that helped define modern American liberalism.  
His focus, he said in an interview in advance of the announcement, will be on distributing the magazine’s long-form journalism through tablet computers like the iPad. 
Asked how he would turn a profit for the money-losing magazine, Mr. Hughes said, “Profit per se is not my motive. 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 added that he hoped the magazine could be profitable. “But I’m investing and taking control of The New Republic because of my belief in its mission, not to make it the next Facebook,” he said.
You can read the whole article at the New York Times here.  There are positive and negative consequences to having media properties owned by single individuals or families, rather than by larger conglomerates with private or public shareholders.  Can you think of any?

(P.S. Notice that one of your readings for next week comes from ... The New Republic.)


  1. I think the positives associated with non-conglomerate owned media outlets would stem largely from the fact that they don't have to report to anybody. There would be no selling out, no appeasing the shareholders, no overt business-influenced decisions regarding content. That being said, a lack of shareholders could result in a lack of product quality and accountability for what goes out. With THAT being said, I prefer the idea of personal ownership of media outlets over more conglomerate friendly models. I think individual or family ownership could add a degree of integrity to the product that a more business focused style might neglect.

  2. I think there are positives and negatives for any one company owning the majority of a certain medium, whether it be radio, magazine, newspaper, etc. It is always difficult to keep ulterior motives and biases out of any project. This case is no different. It will be interesting to see whether or not The New Republic won't become The New Promoter of Facebook.
    Katie Slavin


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