Social mission and profit: Chris Hughes looks to blend journalism, new media

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In purchasing The New Republic, Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, said he not only wants to help stabilize the financially troubled magazine by 2015 but to put the publication in the service of a wider mission.

“It’s a double bottom-line business,” he told Alex Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, as part of a conversation at the Harvard Kennedy School on Tuesday. Hughes said that the magazine will have both a “social mission” and the longer-term goal of profitability, and it will use a variety of social media strategies to accomplish both.

Asked if the journalistic focus of the magazine will change, he noted that it will shift away from “opinion journalism” to more reported articles. The goal is to fill a “hole in the marketplace” – somewhere between the churn of the daily news cycle and magazine outlets that focus more on long-form storytelling, he said.

From a strategic editorial and technology perspective, Hughes said, the key is to “have our editorial staff continue to engage in the content” after the stories are initially published. “The conversation that continues after the piece is where a lot of the impact can happen.”