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Posts Tagged ‘Harper’s Magazine’

AP Gets to the Bottom of Christmas Song Mondegreens

Any AP story that requires interviews with the co-owner of an East Village karaoke bar and the co-host of a public radio show about the English language is absolutely fine by our Christmas carol songbook.

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The delightful item, by entertainment and lifestyles reporter Leanne Italie, is all about “mondegreens,” a term used to describe the usually very funny instances of people mishearing song lyrics like “9 Ladies Dancing” (from “The Twelve Days of Christmas”) as “9 Lazy Hansons.” Grant Barrett, of the aforementioned radio program A Way With Words, explains how the term originated:

The word, he said, can be traced to Sylvia Wright and a column she wrote in Harper’s magazine in 1954 titled, “The Death of Lady Mondegreen.” Wright discovered that for years she had botched the last line of the first stanza of the Scottish folk ballad “The Bonnie Earl o’ Moray.”

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Ted Conover Revisits Harper’s Undercover Assignment

TedConoverPicThe article, titled “The Way of All Flesh,” ran in the May 2013 issue of Harper’s magazine. This week, author Ted Conover revisited his experiences going undercover as a USDA meat inspector in a Midwestern industrial slaughterhouse for the piece, as part of a Morse College master’s tea discussion at Yale University.

He told students that going undercover is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he was surprised by the kinds of personal connections he was able to establish with other slaughterhouse workers. On the other, that kind of connection is only possible up to a point:

“I don’t think you can feel you really belong if you’re undercover, because you can’t express yourself in a full and honest way,” Conover said. “It’s a form of research I don’t recommend, because it’s hard over time to not be able to feel you belong or tell your friends back home.”

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MacArthur Responds to Harper’s Union

Earlier today we told John “Rick” MacArthur that it was his move in the war of words between himself and the union at Harper’s. Well, he might hate the Internet, but he must read us, because he has issued a reply to the writers who signed the union’s letter.

MacArthur’s bottom line: The signers of the letter must not know the facts, because he’s in favor of the union, and any layoffs have nothing to do with its formation.

As the back-and-forth continues, it’s worth wondering if the environment at Harper’s can ever recover from this, no matter what happens. A public spat between employees and employer is not something that typically yields positive results.

Check out MacArthur’s full letter after the jump – and since we said it to MacArthur before – your move, union.

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More Drama at Harper’s

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.

Harper’s Publisher Battles Own Staff

Take one magazine publisher who hates the Internet, add some staffers who have unionized because of the owner’s shady moves, and what do you get? Nothing good.

Gabriel Sherman at The Daily Intel reports that there is plenty of chaos at Harper’s Magazine, where John MacArthur, owner/publisher of the title, and staffers are tangled in a dispute that will only get worse. Apparently staffers at the magazine decided to unionize in response to several moves MacArthur has made – including firing Roger Hodge, the mag’s former Editor-in-Chief who sought to protect staff from cuts, and MacArthur putting his own name above senior editors on the masthead. When MacArthur found out about the union, he wasn’t very pleased, and now the staff is even more worried:

The Harper’s union has been locked in a bitter contract dispute with MacArthur since July. And now he’s trying to lay off Harper’s’ literary editor, Ben Metcalf, who’s worked at the magazine since the mid-nineties and who played a key role in the union drive — a move the union says is pure retaliation.

Oh and yes, there’s that whole hating the Internet thing. MacArthur flat out refuses to believe that their rival, The Atlantic, finally posted a profit only because it concentrated on boosting its web presence.

But MacArthur should keep doing what he’s doing, we’re sure fighting against staff and declaring the Internet worthless is a great model for success.

UPDATE:

Kathy Park Price, VP of Public Relations for Harper’s, just emailed us to say that there were some inaccuracies in Sherman’s report. You can decide who to believe. Price says, “The union was certified to represent Harper’s in late October.  Also, Harper’s agreed to meet with the union immediately, and has since waited for the union to schedule a meeting to begin negotiations.  The negotiations began one week ago, on January 7.  Rick [MacArthur] never contested the staff’s right to unionize.  He contested the inclusion of certain senior editors in the unit as being part of management.”

Harper’s Magazine Publisher Not Impressed with The Internet

“I never found e-mail exciting.”

So begins John MacArthur, Publisher of Harper’s Magazine, in his anti-Internet writing rant. It’s logical to wonder who told MacArthur that email is supposed to be fun in the first place, but the fact that he hates it is quickly lost in a sea of reasons why the Internet is the scourge of the writing world.

The 942 word column doesn’t shed any new light onto the extremely-dated opinion that the Internet is terrible, but might be the first by such a prominent literary figure to compare blogs to a sex act (which sadly, he doesn’t define).

As someone who has a vested interest in seeing the printed word succeed, the long-winded rant is expected from MacArthur, and by the end of the column we just felt kind of bad for him. Fighting against Internet-based writing is like trying to convince the Rolling Stones that making more albums only lessens their appeal – it’s pointless because that battle was lost many years ago.

Harper’s Magazine Released on iPad

It only took until their 160th year of publication, but Harper’s Magazine is now available in digital format for iPad users.  In addition to accessing traditional print and online versions, Harper’s readers can now sign up for 12 electronic issues of our country’s oldest general interest monthly mag for under $17.  VP of circulation Shawn Green is excited for the opportunity to broaden Harper’s audience:

We are proud to bring the legacy of Harper’s Magazine to the iPad, expanding the reach of the magazine to a global audience and those who prefer electronic formats.

Time Inc. Earnings|USA Weekend President Retires|Steve Forbes|Mags’ Circ Not Up, But Not Down As Much|Eavesdropping At Harper’s

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All Things D: In reporting its earnings today, Time Warner said that revenues in its Time Inc. magazine division were down, but not as much as they had been in previous quarters.

E&P: Marcia Bullard president of USA Weekend, USA TODAY‘s weekend edition, is retiring at the end of March. She will be replaced by publisher Charles Gabrielson, who will be adding the title of president to his responsibilities.

MarketWatch: Steve Forbes: online revenues won’t replace advertising.

Advertising Age: Like Time Inc.’s earnings, magazines are still reporting declines in circulation, they’re just not as steep as they have been in recent months.

Observer: A Harper’s Magazine exec eavesdropped while his boss was being interviewed by New York Times reporter Stephanie Clifford.

More Details On Harper’s Shake-up Emerge

harperscover2.jpgLast week, Harper’s Magazine announced an editorial shift. The 160-year-old magazine announced that its editor, Roger D. Hodge, was stepping down, to be replaced (at least for the time being) by longtime managing editor Ellen Rosenbush.

But, it didn’t take long for the media to catch a whiff of sometimes smelling off. That same afternoon, The New York Times reported that some Harper’s staffers were saying Hodge hadn’t left on his own; he had been “dismissed.”

Today, the Times has a more in-depth piece about the shift at Harper’s, opening with a description of a meeting led by the magazine’s president and publisher, John R. MacArthur last week:

“In a rambling 40-minute monologue that left many attendees perplexed, Mr. MacArthur, 53, talked about the problems facing Harper’s: readership was down 35,000, newsstand sales were plummeting, the only direct-mail piece that seemed to work was 20 years old. Worse, Harper’s seemed irrelevant — ‘the mainstream media is ignoring it to death,’ he said — according to people who were at the meeting.”

MacArthur did not talk about Hodge, who the Times now reports definitively, was fired early last week.

While the struggles of Harper’s are nothing new within the industry, its story is unique in that it’s one of the oldest magazines in the country and a nonprofit to boot. Although the nonprofit model has been touted as a possible savior of the industry, Harper’s should serve as a model for the rest. Is it truly independent? How long can it last?

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Harper’s Magazine‘s Editor Steps Down

rosehodge.jpgHarper’s Magazine, the oldest general interest magazine in the U.S., has lost its editor.

The pub announced today that editor Roger D. Hodge was departing “to pursue other endeavors.” He will be replaced by managing editor Ellen Rosenbush (pictured left with Hodge), who will become acting editor of Harper’s starting on February 1.

Hodge had served as editor of the long-running magazine since 2006, and worked as deputy editor for two years prior to that. He started at Harper’s in 1996 as an intern. Rosenbush has worked for the title as managing editor since 1989, previously holding posts at Connoisseur magazine, GEO magazine and New Times Magazine.

Said Harper’s publisher John R. MacArthur:

“One of the most talented magazine editors in New York, Ellen has a wealth of experience and has worked with everyone from Tom Wolfe to Richard Rodriguez to Joyce Carol Oates; she will continue to draw the highest-profile writers in the country and uphold the quality of the journalism in the magazine.”

Update: Looks like there’s some speculation as to whether Hodge’s decision to leave was his own. The New York Times‘ Media Decoder blog, citing an anonymous source, claims Hodge was “dismissed” yesterday, although MacArthur told the paper, “It’s his choice, and it’s personal, and I just don’t want to go into it because it’s not something I can elaborate on.”

Full release after the jump

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