The New York Review of Magazines comes out once a year, at the end of the second semester of Columbia grad J-school's magazine concentration. The 15 or so students in the course should all operate under the assumption (illusion?) that they will, upon completion of this course, get wonderful editorial assistant positions at Serious Magazines, like Esquire. Or the New Yorker! Or perhaps that's what they secretly dream; the crowd gathered at the Essex restaurant on the Lower East Side (take the 1 from 116th and B'way to 14th St., transfer to the F) last night seemed defensively glum about their prospects. Except for the ones who already had jobs, of course! That one is working at the New York Observer; this one at the Columbia Journalism Review; and that other one for one of those fashion trade mags.
The magazine that they put out is a magazine about magazines, and as such the array of stories ranges from a story about muscle magazines ("To get the swollen DINOSAUR LEGS on the cover of the December 2006 issue of Muscular Development is not easy") and one about Good magazine to an analysis of the firing of precocious Spencer Ackerman from the New Republic because of some impetuous things he wrote on a personal blog called Too Hot For TNR. (See the Observer's account; second item.) The author of the piece, who comes across as rather precocious himself, is a 2005 graduate of Dartmouth College named Clint Hendler. "It's a shame that the New Republic couldn't find a way to keep Spencer," Mr. Hendler said. We asked if there was a moral to be gleaned from Mr. Ackerman's firing. "Well, how are personal blogs going to be reconciled with publications?" Mr. Hendler asked. "The New Republic didn't have a standing policy, but an implicit one." In his piece, Mr. Hendler implies Mr. Ackerman's firing had more to do with his disagreements with the magazine's wunderkind editor, Franklin Foer (brother of Jonathan Safran and Joshua); Lee Siegel, who one might argue caused more damage to the magazine with his bloggy shenanigans, was, after all, allowed to stay.
Victor Navasky, the former Nation editor and publisher who is in charge of the magazine class and a magazine lecture series at Columbia, was noncommittal about whether his class helps students prepare for the big, bad and rapidly contracting magazine world. Perhaps that is why the magazine's web presence is expanding. A few years ago, Mr. Navasky explained, he sent a note to Jim Romenesko about his students' magazine. "He called me and asked if the magazine was on the web, it wasn't, and he said, then I can't use it! So a student put up a website," Mr. Navasky said. —Doree