How Is The Nearly Ad-Free 'New Republic' Surviving?

We've been mildly obsessed with the New Republic's page count ever since Editor-in-Chief Marty Peretz made that ridiculous pronouncement that the newly redesigned book would have 80 pages each issue. Which, of course, has yet to happen, and in the meantime, we've heard bitching from various people at the magazine that we're being unfair, that they're actually publishing very interesting stuff these days. So when the latest issue arrived in the mail (48 pages, ahem), we started trying to actually read the damn thing.

(N.B.: James Wood, off to the New Yorker, is already off the masthead. Goodbye and good riddance, we guess!) There's an editorial about Darfur, and an indignant response to the Weekly Standard's criticism of its blog from Iraq (William Kristol is a thug, basically), an analysis of Mitt Romney's campaign (it's badly run). There's some analysis of Karl Rove's skill at political manipulation and a piece about Hezbollah's "creepy" new museum in Beirut. The cover story is a piece about how political psychology has contributed to Bush's success, and the book review is of... The Diana Chronicles? Which came out in June?

But what really disturbed us, and we're being completely serious here, for a moment, because when it comes down to it we don't really want the New Republic to fold, if only just because two or three people we admire would lose their jobs, and, well, we're provided with at least one free post over here each week—anyway, what really disturbed us was the deathly lack of ads in this issue.

Not counting house ads, we counted 6 and 7/12ths pages of ads. One of those full pages is an ad for Salon, which simply has to be an ad trade. The rest are for the following advertisers:

  • Princeton University Press (full page, black & white)
  • FLAME (Facts and Logic About the Middle East) (full page, b&w)
  • Common Sense for Drug Policy (full page, b&w)
  • University of Chicago Press (1/3 page)
  • University of California Press (1/6 page)
  • A personal recruitment ad from "one of Wall Street's most successful entrepreneurs," for a personal assistant (1/12)
  • The Hoover Institution (full page, color)
  • HBO, for Real Time With Bill Maher (back page, color)

    In the best-case scenario—if all of these ads were one-time ads running at full price—we're calculating something in the vicinity of $44,000, which alone would be kind of sad, but we know for a fact that at least a couple of those ads are recurring, which knocks down the revenue. Then there's the special rates "available upon request" for non-profit, book publishing, and direct response advertisers, which we think is everyone here except HBO, which we find hard to believe paid full price anyway because really, no one pays full price! So that leaves TNR with, what, $25,000 for the issue? Does that even pay the bill for Marty Peretz's thesauri?

    Eek.

    We looked, just for fun, at the July 23 issue, which was only 8 pages longer but had about double the amount of ad pages. What's going on over there? Summer doldrums? Or are they pursuing some sort of secret revenue strategy that we're not privy to?

    If they are, they'd better own up to it, quickly. A profile of the magazine's new editor, Columbia alum and "journalistic wunderkind" (their words) Frank Foer, in the latest issue of the Columbia alumni magazine reminds us that new owners CanWest expect TNR "to turn a profit in three years, which is unheard of for an opinion magazine." Yikes.

    Perhaps someone at CanWest should heed the words of New Yorker editor Henrik Hertzberg, who told Columbia, "I hope they don't expect it to make money... In that respect the New Republic has been an almost constant failure since 1914"—the year it was founded.