Are Magazine Staffs Whiter Than the GOP?

New Republic's article "The Party of White People" prompts critics to turn the tables.

Chris Hughes, right, with Creative Director Dirk Barnett (Chester Higgins J)
Chris Hughes, right, with Creative Director Dirk Barnett (Chester Higgins J)

The New Republic is catching heat for its latest cover story about the Republican party, titled ‘The Party of White People: An Historical Investigation,’ ” Dylan Byers wrote Monday for Politico.

It might be the most attention that the issue of the diversity of media staffs has received from a non-journalism publication in years.

The focus of the attention is an experiment being closely watched in some media circles. Chris Hughes, the 29-year-old co-founder of Facebook, former online campaign adviser to President Obama and the New Republic’s newest owner, is hoping to turn around the magazine he bought in March, as Christine Haughney wrote last month in the New York Times.

The magazine he purchased is part of an industry that might be the whitest, most segregated part of the news media.

Byers’ report continued, “The complaint, voiced by Reason.com on Friday and by the influential conservative blogger Ace of Spades today, is that the ultra-white TNR is one to talk.

” ‘[A] quick Wikipedia investigation of the magazine’s 15 editors throughout its century of publishing reveals that each and every one… was not just white, but white and male,’ Reason’s Matt Welch writes. ‘Though word on the street is that TNR is now ‘add[ing] women’s voices to a magazine that has long been short on them,’ so hooray for progress, etc.

“Ace’s tirade against TNR comes in a series of tweets, including: ‘[B]ased on the TNR writers I know, the palette ranges all the way from pasty to eggshell’; ‘Some of us dream of an All-White Nation… but in the meantime we content ourselves with TNR’s offices’; ‘GOP: The Party of White People’ ‘TNR: The Magazine of White People’ ‘MSM: The Industry of White People’; and on, and on, and on.”

Byers’ opinion? “The TNR staff is and always has been predominantly white — even moreso than your average American magazine — but the notion that this should preclude them from publishing an article on the Republican party’s problems with non-white voters is absurd. Everyone with even an introductory understanding of politics — including prominent conservative pundits — knows that the GOP needs to reach non-white male voters. It’s why Fox News president Roger Ailes appears in the pages of this week’s issue talking about Hispanic outreach. (It’s also worth noting that Ace of Spades and Reason didn’t seem to have a problem with the majority white Fox News discussing the party’s whiteness on election night.)”

Byers concluded, “. . . Should TNR diversify its offices? That’s up to them. But for the GOP, it isn’t a case of should or shouldn’t. It’s a case of must.”

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