The year’s best TNR articles

393px-Walter_Lippmann_1914This morning I took to Twitter and promised an end to the New Republic retweets, concluding: “at this point most of us are only talking past everyone else.” Even if that was the right comment, it was the wrong medium.

This is what I might have said: the conservative end of our political spectrum has long declared TNR’s editorial positions irrelevant and offers little comment about the particulars of employee relations. TNR’s more progressive observers believe the shake-up to be only the most recent and notable skirmish between #longread and #clickbait, between print and digital. And while the departing editors chide New Republic ownership for terrible lapses in decorum and management, Hughes replied by exceeding the informal 500-word maximum by sixty percent, and not saying anything at all. In Twitterspeak, each side is talking past all others.

As someone who has worked for the same small business for twenty years–who has listened to the owners struggle with the ideas of continuance and cashing out, who has witnessed first-hand the difficulties of valuing a company, offering it for sale–I can only add that TNR’s frustrations are par for the course. Especially now that it has outlived those who wrote its mission statement.

Hopefully that does not sound detached. While corporate continuance problems are inevitable, they are not without their casualties. I have rather enjoyed getting to know the essayists at TNR and will miss seeing so many excellent writers under the same masthead: Anne Applebaum, Jonathan Chait, Noam Scheiber, Isaac Chotiner and Julia Ioffe. For an introduction to some of my favorite pieces, keep reading below the fold. No doubt some of these will show up on Zidi’s year-end list for best new articles. For now we offer only a few:

Why I Decided War Reporting Was No Longer Worth the Risk
by Tom A. PeterH_Croly
I’ve often wondered about the risks that reporters, myself included, take in order to cover war. In the wake of Jim [Foley]’s death, these questions weigh on me more heavily than ever.

After spending seven years working in the Middle East and Afghanistan, I returned to the U.S. last October, and this time I’ve stayed. In the months since, I’ve met countless news consumers like that woman in Florida, trapped in a luxury high-rise, surrounded by information they refuse to access or consider.

I Met Igor Bezler, the Russian Rebel Who Said, “We Have Just Shot Down a Plane”
by Julia Ioffe
Back in May, I met Igor Bezler, whose voice is said to be on the leaked recordings of an intercepted phone conversation between him and a Russian minder, in which Bezler apparently says, “We have just shot down a plane,” which, he clarifies, is “100 percent civilian.” Bezler, known as Bes, or “demon,” is a separatist leader in Ukraine, commanding a rag-tag army of police force deserters and teenagers when he isn’t busy fighting with other rebel leaders.

The Truth About Our Libertarian Age
by Mark Lilla
None of us anticipated the rapid breakup of the Soviet empire, or the equally quick return of Eastern Europe to constitutional democracy, or the shriveling of the revolutionary movements that Moscow had long supported. Faced with the unexpected, we engaged in some uncharacteristic big thinking. Is this the “end of history”? And “what’s left of the Left?” Then life moved on and our thinking became small again.

A Mutable Feast
by Sam Apple
Now, both because it’s obvious that America’s low-fat experiment didn’t make us more healthy and because a new body of research has emerged—a recent meta-analysis found no evidence that eating saturated fat contributes to heart disease—the consensus of the last decades is falling apart. There’s no longer a prevailing wisdom.

‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ Is a New Low for Hollywood
by Isaac Chotiner
To begin a review by saying Hollywood is out of ideas is a sign that a reviewer is out of ideas. It also happens to be technically incorrect. If The Amazing Spider-Man 2 proves anything, it is that Hollywood does have one very powerful idea, and is consciously engaged in turning that idea into reality, i.e. money. The film industry, or at least its summer-superhero-blockbuster wing, is intent on making essentially the same movie over and over.

–C.E. Alexander is the author of four short stories, none of which take place in a newsroom. Kindle Unlimited users can read his short story Book of Constants for free, here.

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