Thursday, July 07, 2005

Jay Rosen: CJR "dumb" to keep Navasky off the masthead

Media critic Jay Rosen, thinks that keeping Victor Navasky off the Columbia Journalism Review masthead was "dumb," but apparently not dumb enough for Rosen to mention the matter in his blog. He also cautions against using the whole affair as an "episode in the culture wars."

In response to this post, Rosen e-mailed me the following:
Thanks, Dave. Here is my on the record comment: Not putting him on the masthead when he was supervising the magazine was dumb. And trying to turn this into an episode in the culture wars is dumb too. And while you say you "leave it to others to differentiate between ideologue and ideologist," I think you know full well what I meant when I said that he was a definitely a man of the left and not an ideologue. Cheers.
I summarized my thoughts in the reply I sent to Rosen:
Thanks for the message (which I'll post, together with this note).

I don't think you have much to fear in terms of this becoming an episode in the culture wars. To my knowledge, no columns mentioning the matter have appeared in any high-profile publications. And the media criticism world has been fairly silent both on Navasky's CJR role and the hiding of that role.

Regardless of whether Navasky is an ideologue, it still seems to me that having a man so deeply identified with the left in charge of CJR is likely to move the magazine, perhaps subtly, to the left, even if Navasky makes overt efforts at neutrality.

(For example, I could see hiring being affected since Navasky's personal networks while undoubtedly diverse are likely tilted left; and his very name would, I suspect, tend to draw more job-hunters of the left to apply to the magazine. Also, I imagine that young CJR reporters looking to impress the boss would be likely to choose topics or angles they perceive would strike a sympathetic chord with the boss.)

In any case, the undoubted perception of increased leftward tilt of the magazine seems in and of itself noteworthy.