John MacArthur

If a magazine still is what it's been for almost three centuries—an ink-on-paper "storehouse" of writing, published on a regular schedule—then the "media industrial revolution" (to use Tina Brown's awkward phrase) is surely in the process of rendering many of our magazines obsolete. Seen historically, The Art of Making Magazines—a collection of twelve lectures by esteemed editors, proofreaders, designers, and writers delivered over the last decade to graduate students at the Columbia School of Journalism—may have barely made its deadline. (Future versions might be titled something like The Lost Art of…)

The war of words between Harper's publisher John "Rick" MacArthur and the magazine's union is intensifying. Today, the union is circulating an open letter to MacArthur signed by 84 writers and former Harper's editors that calls on the publisher to cancel the planned layoffs of literary editor Ben Metcalf and Harper's Index editor Ted Ross.

The signatories, who read like a guest list for a Brooklyn literary salon, include novelists Jonathan Lethem, Sam Lipsyte, George Saunders, and recent Harper's hires Zadie Smith and Thomas Frank.

While their essays are different in many ways, MacArthur and Gladwell share a skepticism about whether the Internet and social media are truly revolutionary. It's a valid question.

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