Harper’s Publisher Backlash Grows After Firing Beloved Editor


Yesterday, we noticed that the New York Times profile of a shifting, and possibly floundering, Harper’s magazine focused on the increasingly second-guessed moves of publisher Rick MacArthur. Tuesday, in a follow-up by the Observer‘s John Koblin, Harper’s staffers are called “queasy” about MacArthur’s “increased visibility in their lives.” Not exactly a vote of confidence in a time of turmoil.

In a visual worth as much as both pieces combined, the photograph attached to Koblin’s article (above) catches a Harper’s executive eavesdropping on the New York Times interview with MacArtuhur. One staffer, in support of recently fired editor-in-chief Roger Hodge, is quoted as saying, “He was good about keeping Rick [MacArthur] out of our hair.” Mutiny, or a mass restructuring, sounds not far off. Koblin writes:

But at this point, staffers have no confidence that Ms. Rosenbush, or anyone else, for that matter, can stand between them and Mr. MacArthur any longer. Staffers said that Mr. MacArthur has given no indication that there is a search for a new editor. A spokeswoman for the magazine said that Mr. MacArthur is “open to possibilities” of a new editor, but there was no time frame for hiring a replacement, nor is a formal search under way.

Candid quotes from anonymous staffers indicate anxiety about MacArthur’s micromanaging and the worry that “we are going to be creating this magazine for an audience of one now.” Harper’s numbers were already dwindling, but one — and maybe MacArthur soon — is indeed the loneliest.

Listening in on the Harper’s Meltdown [New York Observer]

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