paper trail

"New Republic" staff unionizes; Alexander Chee on writing and identity

Alexander Chee

The majority of editorial staff at the New Republic have unionized with NewsGuild of New York. “We believe that unionizing is the best way to strengthen our workplace, not just for ourselves but for future generations of journalists,” said staff writer Sarah Jones. “By organizing, we're simply affirming our commitment to The New Republic's progressive values. We're also affirming our commitment to each other.”

Harper’s Magazine editor James Marcus was reportedly fired by publisher Rick MacArthur last week for “opposing the publication of Katie Roiphe’s cover story in the March issue.” Marcus told Publisher’s Lunch that although he had objected to the article, which was assigned by MacArthur, he continued to work on the piece with the rest of the staff. “I had hoped that despite our differences, Rick and I could agree to disagree and move on. He could not,” Marcus said. “When I was fired on Friday afternoon, it was clear that the dispute over Roiphe’s article was the main cause.”

The producers of the Broadway adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird have countersued the author’s estate, and “are offering to perform the play for a judge to prove it is faithful to the book after the estate claimed otherwise.”

Nicole Kidman will adapt and star in a film version of Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion.

Alexander Chee reflects on how writing helped him understand the complexity of Asian American life. “I like to feel anonymous, even hidden, when I write, as if I have to vanish as a way to welcome in whatever comes next. And to be safe from whatever might try to stop me,” he writes. “Other people’s mistaken perceptions of me have taught me a kind of dance, as if it were all a long game of jumping rope.”

Malcolm Harris looks at the declining pay for freelance journalists and wonders what a reasonable pay system for writers would look like.

CNN reports that “since January, each book at the top of the New York Times best-seller list has had one thing in common: President Trump.” Literary Hub rounds up reviews of the latest book to continue the trend: James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty.

At Columbia Journalism Review, Gustavo Arellano goes inside the newsroom of LA Weekly and talks to the employees who have remained at the alt-weekly amid a boycott by former staff. Most of the remaining employees say that boycott is just one more event in “the paper’s tumultuous history.” Culture editor Lina Lecaro, who started as an intern at the paper in 1993, said, “I’ve been literally hearing ‘LA Weekly now sucks’ since I started at LA Weekly.”