Editorial Shake-Up as Harper’s Tries to Stabilize in a Downturn
By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD
Just before noon last Wednesday, John R. MacArthur, the president, publisher and chief benefactor of Harper’s Magazine, joined his editorial staff after its monthly meeting.
“We are going through a crisis,” Mr. MacArthur, who goes by Rick, told them in a crowded conference room, where the business employees had joined them. Bound volumes dating from 1850 reminded everyone of Harper’s pedigree and prominence.
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.