You may have heard by now that The American Prospect is facing serious financial trouble. There's more information here, but the short version is that without a substantial infusion of funds in a very short time, this extraordinary magazine could cease its operations.
Magazines like this one, especially ones with ambitions to provide serious coverage of policy and politics, do not make money. Advertising and subscriptions cover part of the cost of operations, but only a part. And unfortunately, the Prospect's politics do not endear us to most of the nation's billionaires.
But if you know one who might feel differently, please give them a call. A bunch of incredibly talented people are about to lose their jobs. And I may be biased, but the silencing of the Prospect's voice will leave our national debate less vibrant and informed than it will be if the magazine finds a way to survive.
Now, let me add a personal note. Ten years ago, I was teaching and doing research at a university, and figured I would spend the rest of my career as an academic. But I was beginning to have doubts, particularly about the pace (glacial), audience (miniscule), and style (dullsville) of academic research. So I wrote a couple of op-eds for newspapers, which I enjoyed. Then I submitted an article to The American Prospect, a magazine that seemed like the perfect outlet for what I had to say. It was a publication that valued substantive, in-depth reporting, and analysis, and managed to be engaged in the key debates of the moment while still taking a broad view of politics and wondering about what might be possible. To my surprise, they accepted my submission.
When I got the issue in the mail, with my article on the cover, I knew that I wasn't going to be an academic after all. I was more excited about that article—knowing it would be read by people I respected, that I was now associated with a publication I so deeply admired, and that my contribution might have a chance to have some kind of impact, however modest, on the debate in Washington—than about almost anything I had done as a scholar. A year later I had left my job, moved to D.C., and co-founded an online magazine. I kept submitting pieces to the Prospect, and eventually became a columnist and blogger here.
Dozens of other writers can tell similar stories about how the Prospect changed the course of their professional lives. I'm still hopeful that this won't be the end of the Prospect. But for the magazine to survive, it's going to take a lot of generosity from a lot of people. If you can, please give.