We’ve been following the fight between the union at Harper’s Magazine and its publisher, John “Rick” MacArthur, since Gabriel Sherman first wrote about it. Today, Sherman says that the magazine’s union has ratcheted up the rhetoric. It has sent out a letter signed by 84 writers – including powerhouses Zadie Smith and Jonathan Lethem – that asks MacArthur to reconsider the expected firing of editors Ben Metcalf and Ted Ross. Both Metcalf and Ross are part of the union, which was created to change the direction MacArthur was taking the magazine.
Aside from asking that the editorial staff remain intact, the letter also requests that MacArthur opens up the magazine to outside funding. It closes with a “thanks for everything but you’re doing it wrong” statement:
We truly appreciate the space Harper’s Magazine has provided for our work and the generosity and commitment you have demonstrated over the past three decades. But we fear that in a publishing climate as precarious as this one, acrimonious staff relations and sustained losses of editorial experience can imperil any magazine. We do not claim to know the intricacies of the magazine’s financial situation, but it is our firm belief that its future depends on employing editors and researchers who enjoy a strong, secure, and harmonious working environment.
Your move MacArthur.