The New York Review of Magazines » Beat News The New York Review of Magazines Mon, 28 Jun 2010 15:19:22 +0000 en hourly 1 The American Conservative Devotes Space to Israel Thu, 13 May 2010 16:55:09 +0000 Ali Gharib By Ali Gharib

For my piece in this year’s New York Review of Magazines “In Review” section, I discuss the topic that initially brought The American Conservative to my attention: Israel. TAC delivers the sort of badly lacking attention to U.S.-Israel relations anyone yearning for a good, honest and critical debate would hope to see. And they ain’t backing down anytime soon.

The May issue of TAC (a magazine founded by Pat Buchanan to promote his “old right” — aka paleoconservative — agenda) has two feature articles on Israel. The cover shows U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu standing nose to nose, looking determined, with the words “Will He Blink?” between the two. It’s referencing Obama’s challenge to Netanyahu for a halt to settlement construction, which contravenes international law and U.S. policy.

But the articles, by Philip Weiss and Scott McConnell, two of my interview subjects for the magazine review, are not about Israeli colonies. Rather, in keeping with the name of the magazine, they focus on the U.S. angle.

McConnell, a Buchanan acolyte, offers bits of history in the U.S.-Israel relationship — including a precedent for the tough task of confronting Israel — and recounts some of the changing debate in Washington. He includes a shift in the mainstream media, until recently a dependable ally willing to affix a fig leaf to Israel’s more nefarious policies, or ignore them altogether. McConnell writes of a new set of critics that, “far too diffuse to be called a coalition, includes some anti-Zionists, but its vast majority favors a two-state solution. It is composed of Christians and Jews and an increasing number of Muslims.” McConnell goes on:

“Whereas informed skepticism about Israeli claims was once limited largely to American diplomats who served in the region, today its base may be ten times larger. For the first time in U.S. history, the pro-Palestinian side has a competitive voice in the public discourse—far smaller than the Israel lobby’s but growing every day.”

The so-called Israel lobby is exactly what Weiss takes aim at in his piece, helpfully titled: “Out From the Shadows: AIPAC Confronts its Worst Fear: Daylight.” AIPAC, of course, is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the flagship of the lobby — considered one of the most powerful groups in Washington. The daylight theme is a double entendre referring to both the lobby meme that there should be “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel and the notion, articulated by longtime AIPAC official Steve Rosen (no longer), that “A lobby is a nightflower/ It thrives in the dark/ And dies in sunlight.” Though Weiss unfortunately declines to make the second reference clear, he heaps the sunlight on AIPAC, something he’s done before for TAC.

Weiss, a friend who runs the blog Mondoweiss (which — full disclosure — I’ve contributed to), comes at these issues from a left/liberal perspective. His website, filled with his thoughtful anti-Zionist musings about Jewish identity and Israel, has become a clearing house for progressive news and opinion on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Israel lobby is a common foil for Weiss. The topic was once taboo — even as recently as 2005, when The Atlantic refused to run an article it had commissioned by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer (who is quoted in Weiss’s latest TAC piece), international relations professors at Harvard and the University of Chicago, respectively. “We believe they rejected it because they came to believe the subject was too controversial and would cause problems,” Mearsheimer told CounterPunch. They had to take it off-shore to the London Review of Books. And here’s Phil Weiss, well to the left of these center-right realist scholars, taking their reasoned arguments to the pages of a conservative magazine just three years later.

You still won’t see much of this sort of frank talk, even in major left-leaning magazines. The ostensibly liberal New Republic’s foreign policy veers hard-right under its neocon publisher Marty Peretz. McConnell discusses longtime TNR literary editor Leon Wieseltier’s assault on The Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan, who’s been more and more critical of Israel recently. But The Atlantic also publishes Jeffrey Goldberg, a former Israel Defense Force prison guard who is a both nuanced critic of, say, settlement policy and nonetheless a reflexive defender of Israel who tends to dismiss her critics as anti-Semites. (On the pages of TNR, Goldberg compared Walt and Mearsheimer to the 1930’s fascist-friendly anti-Semite Father Coughlin, later accusing their book of making an “anti-Jewish argument” and comparing it to Charles Lindbergh, another fascist sympathizer.)

TAC, in this sense, stands as a tower of intellectual honesty looming over other conservative magazines. As mentioned in McConnell’s piece, National Review long ago gave in to neoconservative (in lock step with Israeli right-wing) positions on Israel. The Weekly Standard and Commentary are that movement’s flagship publications.

Make no mistake, though. TAC is a conservative magazine. My politics make me averse to many of the views put forward by paleocons who contribute to TAC. But I’m encouraged that it’s not a magazine so obsessed with ideological rigidity that it’s unwilling to publish progressives — side by side with paleos like McConnell himself — on complex issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where progressives and paleos agree that the status quo is untenable.

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Burn Wins Lucie Award Sat, 01 May 2010 14:35:57 +0000 Sonal Shah Burn Magazine won a prestigious award in 2009. ]]> By Sonal Shah

News to me: Burn Magazine, an online photojournalism publication that I’ve been following for my NYRM feature, won last year’s Lucie Award for Best Photography Magazine. Burn beat out several traditional print publications, as well as other online mags.

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Nir Rosen Has Plenty Left in His Notebook Sun, 25 Apr 2010 20:26:10 +0000 Ali Gharib By Ali Gharib

If you check out my profile of über-war correspondent Nir Rosen in this year’s edition of The New York Review of Magazines, you’ll pick up on a few of Rosen’s unique abilities. In a recent post on the CenterLine the new blog of New York University’s Center for Law and Security, where Rosen is a fellow — he reinforces a few familiar themes in his writing.

There’s his tendency to go to some of the world’s most dangerous spots. The before mentioned blog is drawn from Rosen’s January 2010 trip to Afghanistan, the site of a rapidly swelling U.S. and NATO war.

Rosen tends to write long.  Most blog posts are just a few paragraphs, sometimes even just a sentence or two. Rosen’s deep reporting and spirited opinions can’t be bound by these limits. In a guest post on Steve Clemons’s blog late this winter, Rosen used nearly 2,000 words to rebut a 1,300-word New York Times op-ed by Efraim Karsh. This post for the CenterLine racks up more than 2,600 words.

Rosen also hits the streets to report for his blogs. The post is full of stories from regular Afghans he talked to during his trips. It is titled “Voices from Afghanistan.” In addition to the “voices” from the war-torn country we usually get — Rosen quotes aid workers and members of parliament — we also get to hear from a Kabul baker, four bus drivers, a travel agent, and teachers attending an N.G.O.-sponsored seminar in Wardak Province.

I’m guessing the materials in the post, which is quote-heavy, are samples from the many interviews Rosen conducted that haven’t made it into either his magazine pieces or his upcoming book. In short, he’s unloading his notebook on the reader. By doing so, he’s shedding light on what Afghans from both officialdom and bakerdom think about what is going on there.

Notably absent, however, are any Westerners. Perhaps that’s because the post focuses on people “from Afghanistan,” not those who just happen to be there.

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Virginia Quarterly Review Scored Big With Mumbai Story Fri, 16 Apr 2010 20:47:23 +0000 Frederick Dreier By Frederick Dreier

Virginia Quarterly Review tackles large stories, despite the fact that, with a circulation of roughly 7,000, the magazine is quite small. In November the publication ran a four-part web story looking back at the Mumbai terror bombings in 2008. The story, written by Jason Motlagh, is nearly 20,000 words long, and is titled Sixty Hours of Terror.

VQR did not include the story in a print edition.

Would you take the time to read 20,000 words on a computer screen? According to Ted Genoways, editor of the VQR, almost 750,000 people have read the story so far.

I am one of them. The story is a compelling read, and definitely the most in-depth piece of journalism I have seen about the bombings.

Yes, we live in an age of degenerating attention spans, where 200-word blog posts and 30-second video bursts are just about all the news we can handle. But this story kept me reading. It’s worth checking out.

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Celebrity Weeklies As Serial Novels? Fri, 16 Apr 2010 19:37:15 +0000 Zachary Sniderman By Zachary Sniderman

One of the biggest challenges to modern print serialization is, unsurprisingly, the Internet. A reader looking for celebrity gossip can just type “Tiger Woods” into and get whatever info they want, bypassing print entirely. Heck, they might even be directed to the (incredibly robust) websites of People, Us Weekly or Star. Other online “gossip wires” such as TMZ or Perez Hilton sometimes beat celebrity weeklies to the punch. They are, however, fighting a different fight.

Aggregation websites and gossip wires actually help celebrity weeklies stand out as a genre. The Internet is about speed and news. The printed form is about narrative and longevity. Different magazines, such as our test-subject triumvirate – People, Us Weekly, Star – cultivate unique narrative arcs that draw readers in by how each story is told.

People’s stories touch on Tiger’s anxiety and Elin’s pain. Us Weekly ran with a story titled, “Picking Up The Pieces.” Theirs is a story of brilliant recovery, two beautiful, talented people struggling against a world of pressure to make it work. The story ends with an optimistic line, “As for whether the pair can repair their shattered relations, one source is hopeful, printing the headline, ‘Love is there.’”

That Us Weekly story is followed next week (the same week as a People story titled “Was It Enough”) with a full page that states: “Can one public apology make up for nearly three months of heartbreak? The answer appears to be yes.” Us Weekly keeps up the hopeful message. They applaud Woods’ reconciliatory speech and suggest it’s exactly what Elin needed to hear to forgive him. Star, the rebel of the group, swings out to the other side of the spectrum claiming, in the same week, that “Tiger Cheating Again!”

The individual narrative arcs make the stories more than just “information,” territory already owned by aggregators like Google. People writes about two wounded people wondering if they can love. Us Weekly writes about a couple fixing a relationship destroyed by circumstance. And Star, well, Star’s just getting started…

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New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix to Become TV Show Sun, 11 Apr 2010 13:05:47 +0000 Tim Kiladze By Tim Kiladze

New York Magazine’s approval matrix, which highlights the very best and worst in pop culture and the arts every week, is coming to T.V. Bravo has been in talks with the magazine to make a pop-culture series out of the ever-so-important guide, says the New York Observer.

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Andrew Sullivan’s Blog Sees Increased Readership Fri, 02 Apr 2010 15:38:12 +0000 Tim Kiladze By Tim Kiladze

The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan is getting even more popular. His blog, The Daily Dish, is one of the most visited on the, and its readership continues to grow. Last month The Daily Dish hit a new traffic record: ten million page views. As Sullivan notes in a short post about the milestone, the new total surpasses the seven million page views his blog got in March 2008 at the peak of the presidential primary season.

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I’m on Gawker Tue, 30 Mar 2010 14:35:42 +0000 Joel Meares By Joel Meares

So, here I am, direct tweeting the editor of Out to get a cover image for my review for The New York Review of Magazines, and suddenly, I’m on Gawker. I suppose we can file this one under “extremely slow news day at the Gawker office.”

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Want to Take the Runner’s World Challenge? Tue, 30 Mar 2010 14:32:55 +0000 Frederick Dreier Runner's World.]]> By Frederick Dreier

It’s no secret that in this, the digital age, media companies have tried to create platforms where the reader can interact directly with the writer, thus eliminating the old one-way communication model of the past. Open the doors to the drooling masses and you will truly engage them (and their pocket books). Not a bad theory.

How is the staff at Runner’s World (the world’s first active lifestyle magazine, founded in 1966) trying this? Last year they started the Runner’s World Marathon Challenge. The consumer forked over $130, and got to run the Richmond Marathon alongside 14 members of the staff. Customers also get a customized training plan designed by running coach Bart Yasso (

Interesting concept. The magazine is expanding the challenge for 2010 to include a handful of other races. I suppose that means the staff is going to have to train more.

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Gossip Mill Tue, 30 Mar 2010 14:16:11 +0000 Zachary Sniderman By Zachary Sniderman

I’m starting to get a bad reputation. The good folks at Gristedes think I’m addicted to celebrity weeklies and I can’t really blame them. Every week when I pick up groceries I (now) always stop at the magazine racks to pick out the newest issue of People, Us Weekly and Star Magazine. Every week. For about three months now. Heck, even I think it sounds like a problem.

I’m doing this for the sake of journalist integrity. My feature story for The New York Review of Magazines is on celebrity gossip weeklies and how the stories in these magazines change from week to week. In order to track the changes, I obviously need to pick up the issues each week. My local Gristedes happens to be the easiest place to do so. I suppose everyone has his or her cross to bear.

What I did notice is that it’s surprisingly difficult to tell when a new issue of People, Us Weekly or Star actually comes out. This is largely due to the accepted standard of cover design. Gossip weeklies usually forgo the magazine standard of featuring a cover model and instead plaster small tidbits or a collage of celebrities. The result is that the covers of gossip weeklies start to look homogeneous from week to week. It’s an interesting design choice and one that extends to most of the genre (even including the nearly-universal neon color schemes).

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