There are certainly a host of quality magazines out there today. But all too many of today’s publications, right and left, are too heavily devoted to horserace politics, with politician profiles and short-term rough and tumble fights; or if they are interested in culture, they are essentially collections of reviews, often so dry and academic as to be very limited in reach.
There’s a space for this, certainly, and there’s plenty of smart writing done in that area. But I think there’s also space for a publication which steps back from this fray and devotes itself to the long game, emphasizing culture as much as politics, targeted at the mass market aspirational consumer as opposed to the politically obsessed. I do that a little in The Transom, but this is a publication that would have a much broader reach.
One additional note: magazines are actually doing quite well, moreso than any other form of media. Ad revenue has been up each year since the recession; paid magazine subscriptions continue to rise by about a 1-2 percent mark each year; this year, 181 magazines started while 61 closed. It’s an industry which is more specifically targeted to niches but has stabilized generally even as the bottom has fallen out of the newspaper industry.
Until someone sets a basket of money on Ross Douthat’s desk to start the center-right Atlantic, I don’t think this idea is very likely to come to fruition. But you never know.