Gabriel Snyder makes his first T.N.R. hires

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Gabriel Snyder. ()
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In his inaugural editor's letter, Gabriel Snyder promised that his iteration of The New Republic would nurture a diverse newsroom of "talented journalists who might have previously felt unwelcome" at the 100-year-old Beltway institution.

Snyder announced the first handful of these new masthead positions in a Wednesday memo to the staff of T.N.R., which is undergoing a radical revamp under owner Chris Hughes.

The hires include two senior editors—Jamil Smith, a producer at MSNBC for the past four years, and Elspeth Reeve, who worked under Snyder when he was editor of The Atlantic Wire.

Bijan Stephen, most recently an editorial assistant at Vanity Fair, joins as an associate editor; and Cathy Park Hong, a creative writing teacher at Sarah Lawrence College, joins as poetry editor.

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All four will be based out of T.N.R.'s offices in New York, to which the publication's power center is shifting from its headquarters in Washington.

They will be the first new faces since the November ousting of longtime editor Franklin Foer. What followed was a masthead exodus as Hughes, a Facebook co-founder who bought T.N.R. in 2012, and T.N.R. C.E.O. Guy Vidra revealed plans to reposition the title as a "vertically integrated digital media company" in a bid to turn around its finances and put more emphasis on web content.

Snyder, a former beat reporter for The New York Observer and Variety who went on to top digital posts at Newsweek, Gawker and Bloomberg, was hired to overhaul the magazine, which has moved from a bi-weekly to monthly publishing schedule, and its website. 

But he faces robust skepticism from many longtime readers who believe Hughes and Vidra are damaging T.N.R.'s legacy as a high-minded and influential, if small-scale, journal of politics, commentary and literary criticism.

After the recent shakeup, T.N.R. cancelled what would have been its last installment as a bi-monthly magazine because writers had pulled their pieces and there was not enough remaining staff to produce the issue.

Snyder has since retained Peter Stevenson, the former longtime executive editor of the Observer, and Harper's alumnus Theodore Ross to help edit upcoming issues, the first of which is scheduled to land in February.

Snyder's full memo is below:

I have some good news to share: The New Republic is adding four tremendously talented people to our ranks.

Jamil Smith is joining us as a Senior Editor. For the last four years, Jamil has been a producer at MSNBC, first for The Rachel Maddow Show and most recently Melissa Harris-Perry. As a writer and editor, he's emerged as an influential voice, especially on matters concerning race, politics, and gender. He will be editing and writing on those topics for The New Republic in addition to putting his multimedia skills to use as he helps us launch our own podcast series and helps shape our video offerings. Jamil will start on January 26 and will be based in New York.

Elspeth Reeve is also joining as a Senior Editor. I had the pleasure of working closely with Elle for three years while we were both at The Atlantic Wire. I watched her flourish into a star, first as a writer, covering everything from the 2012 Republican primary to the London Olympics and then as the politics editor. At The New Republic, she'll continue to write about the political landscape, including the 2016 campaign, as well as experiment with the kinds of creative digital storytelling techniques (her GIF guides to gymnastics were instant classics) for which she is known. She was most recently at First Look Media where she worked on Racket, the digital magazine the company was preparing to launch. Elle (pronounced "Ell-ee” — which I learned the hard way) is starting on January 26 and will also be based in New York.

Bijan Stephen is joining us as an Associate Editor. Until recently an editorial assistant at Vanity Fair, Bijan has been published all over town: The Paris Review, n+1, Matter, Vice, and of course his daily "intern" contribution to the media newsletter Today in Tabs. Here he will focus on editing for the web site and magazine while continuing to write. Bijan starts in New York on January 20.

Cathy Park Hong is taking over as Poetry Editor. The winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize, Cathy has published three collections of poetry, most recently Engine Empire, and her poems have appeared, among other places, in The Paris Review, The Baffler, and McSweeney’s. She currently teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and her first selections will appear in the February issue.

This is the first wave of new hires we’ll be making, including in the DC office, so I’ll have more exciting updates soon on the staffing front in addition to continuing to add to our roster of contributors.