New Yorker Editor Says Print Edition Will Still Be Here in 20 Years

Digital Media Means the Magazine Has Had to Ask for More From Contributors

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New Yorker Editor David Remnick says his long-form publication continues to invest in web staff and digital-exclusive content. But he still sees the digital extensions as complementary to the core print product, not a replacement -- at least not anytime soon.

Asked in an onstage interview at All Things D's media conference whether he believes the New Yorker will still publish a print magazine 20 years from now, Mr. Remnick answered, "I do."

At the same time, Mr. Remnick admitted that the magazine, like many legacy print publications, asks more than ever of its contributors and that it's not always easy to persuade long-form journalists to add quick-hitting commentary to their workload.

"You push, you prod, you beg, you plead," he said. "It's a pathetic piece of business being an editor."

Mr. Remnick said he still gets an earful from digital evangelists who want to see online content offered for free; reading much of The New Yorker's content online requires subscribing to the print edition or buying web access to the issue. But he's satisfied with the magazine's current model employs -- especially in light of newspapers that have to "backtrack" and build paywalls after originally offering all their content free online.

"I still don't quite understand how my New York Times works," Mr. Remnick said, referring to the publication's metered paywall, which some call too complicated.

The New Yorker is continuously exploring when digital accoutrements add to the reader's experience and when they may detract from storytelling, Mr. Remnick said. He referred specifically to a conversation he had with longtime New Yorker contributor Roger Angell about the idea of hyperlinking the word "screwball" in a passage that explained how that particular baseball pitch is thrown and why it follows the path it does. In the end they decided a link, which would have brought readers to an action video of the pitch, should not be included.

"It is artistically deflating," Mr. Remnick said.

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