American Prospect likely to become quarterly ‘journal of ideas’
The American Prospect’s board of directors met this morning to consider a proposal to recreate the Prospect as a print quarterly with a smaller budget, a source with knowledge of the meeting told Capital.
News of the new strategy was presented as a fait accompli in a tweet written by senior editor Gabriel Arana this afternoon; the source told Capital that while no final decision has been made, it is “highly likely” that the board will approve the proposal.
The proposal to change the bimonthly print and online political magazine based in Washington D.C., a nonprofit, was developed by Paul Starr and Robert Kuttner, who co-founded the magazine along with Robert Reich in 1990, the source said.
The impetus for the reinvention is “largely financial,” the source said.
The magazine nearly folded in 2012 after years of struggling with finances, as GQ reported in June of that year.
The publication relies on fees from from subscribers and contributions from donors. Although the Prospect managed to raise the $1.2 million necessary to keep it from closing in 2012, its print subscription base remains small—only about 25,000.
Absent from today's board meeting was the Prospect's former editor in chief, Kit Rachlis, who left the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism to head the Prospect in 2011. He announced four weeks ago that he would be returning to California to join the staff of California Sunday Magazine—a new general-interest magazine for the West Coast—in Los Angeles.
“The vision that Kit brought was ultimately more expensive” than the magazine could afford, the source said, so instead the board is embracing the concept of becoming a “journal of ideas”—with a smaller budget.
UPDATE: “As part of an effort to stay within a realistic budget, the board of The American Prospect is considering a shift in the magazine’s print frequency from bimonthly to quarterly beginning in fall 2014, while continuing to publish online,” American Prospect publisher Jay Harris said in a statement released to the press shortly after an early version of this article was published.
“With the departure June 6 of editor in chief Kit Rachlis to take a new position in California, co-editors Bob Kuttner and Paul Starr will direct the magazine, beginning with the fall issue. The Prospect will continue to publish its authoritative pieces that combine reportage with political and economic analysis.
Harris wrote that there would be further internal discussions on the matter.