Journalism’s bright future (is a lie?)

Slate's Jacob Weisberg and Harper's John R. MacArthur on the new world
July 1, 2014

Since 1985, the George T. Delacorte Center at Columbia Journalism School has hosted a lecture series on magazine journalism. Over the years, a slew of famous editors (David Remnick, Chris Anderson, Gloria Steinem, Hilton Kramer) and some of their less-famous colleagues (Adam Pitluk, Roberta Myers, James R. Gaines) have held forth on everything from how to talk to an art director to why simple ideas work best, from the importance of factchecking to the role of a publisher. CJR occasionally posts videos of the lectures at cjr.org, but this spring we were struck by the starkly different takes on the future of journalism in the digital age from two of the lecturers: Jacob Weisberg, editor in chief of Slate Group, and John R. MacArthur, the publisher of Harper’s Magazine. Slate, of course, was a digital-era pioneer that continues to explore new ideas about revenue-generation and reader engagement. Harper’s, the oldest general-interest magazine in America, has locked its content behind a firm paywall and its digital-era strategy is guided by MacArthur’s belief that the free-content ideology is undermining great journalism. We asked Weisberg and MacArthur to turn their lectures into essays for this issue.

Weisberg Lecture

MacArthur Lecture

The Editors are the staffers of the Columbia Journalism Review.