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Old Media Problems Foil New Media Money: Chris Hughes Gives Up on the New Republic (Video)

Let's time travel to 2013, when things looked more optimistic.

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Chris Hughes helped create one of the most powerful forces in media. But he couldn’t figure out how to turn around one of the media world’s most prestigious titles.

Today, Hughes, one of Facebook’s earliest employees, announced that he was giving up on the New Republic, the august publication he bought four years ago. He’s looking for a buyer: “Perhaps it should be run as part of a larger digital media company, as a center-left institute of ideas, or by another passionate individual willing to invest in its future,” he suggested — in a Medium post (of course).

In 2012, Hughes was confident he could turn around the New Republic, which had a sterling reputation but a flagging readership, by turning it into a digital-first publication. But now he says he “underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate.”

Here’s a clip of Hughes in 2013, talking to Kara Swisher about his plans to overhaul his new publication. Note that the other panelist, USA Today publisher Larry Kramer, has also found the digital landscape challenging since then; he stepped down from his post last summer.

This conversation took place at Dive into Media, the predecessor to Code/Media, Re/code’s media + tech conference that we’re hosting next month, featuring the likes of Vice CEO Shane Smith and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. You can read more about the lineup here (more great names to announce very soon) and sign up here. See you there.

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