Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes Buys New Republic, Knocks 'Superficial Virality'

Former Obama Staffer Wants to Invest in Rigorous Reporting

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Facebook co-founder and former Obama campaign staffer Chris Hughes has acquired a majority stake in The New Republic, giving the century-old political magazine an editor-in-chief who's in his late twenties and experienced in social media and online projects.

The magazine's mission is deeper than something like popularity in social media, Mr. Hughes said in a letter to readers.

"It seems that today too many media institutions chase superficial metrics of online virality at the expense of investing in rigorous reporting and analysis of the most important stories of our time," Mr. Hughes wrote. "When few people are investing in media institutions with such bold aims as 'enlightenment to the problems of the nation,' I believe we must."

Mr. Hughes also becomes publisher, according to the letter. Terms, such as the size of his stake, weren't included. A deal for the entire money-losing magazine would be worth less than $20 million, a person familiar with the matter said in January as owners looked for a sale.

The New Republic, based in Washington, is published 20 times a year. The magazine was founded in 1914 to cover U.S. politics, foreign policy and culture, and was once home to journalists Michael Kinsley and Hendrik Hertzberg. It is currently edited by Richard Just.

Mr. Hughes, 28, co-founded Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg. His work there led to the company's communications and product management teams. He left to run Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign on the web. Mr. Hughes also founded Jumo, a social network for philanthropy.

In October, Mr. Hughes was named to the board of The Knight Foundation, a sponsor of journalism-innovation projects.

The New Republic's investors -- which included TheStreet co-founder Martin Peretz, Rothschild banker Laurence Grafstein and Pershing Square Capital Management head William Ackman -- had hired Blackstone Group LP to explore a sale, the person familiar with the situation said in January.

-- Bloomberg News --

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