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The New Yorker’s David Remnick: Paper Magazines Are “Pretty Good Technology”

Published on January 31, 2012
by Liz Gannes

Quality long-form writing has a place in the Internet age, says the New Yorker editor David Remnick — and it’s worth paying for.

Asked whether print magazines would last another 20 years, Remnick said, “The New Yorker — you roll it up, you put it in your bag. It’s quite easy; it’s pretty good technology.”

Remnick has long supported a paywall around the online versions of his magazine’s articles, he said.

Yes, “information wants to be free,” when it comes to distribution — but not all information is created equally, Remnick noted. A piece reported from Afghanistan by New Yorker journalist Dexter Filkins is much different from one by Joe Shmoe, he said.

Increasingly, Remnick pushes and prods his writers to create online content for the New Yorker’s Web site and apps, whether it’s additional reporting material or a blog post about a news item.

But Remnick — who was self-effacing and precise in a conversation with Kara Swisher — was careful to say he’s not seeking to protect a form of writing for its own sake. “I don’t think length should be gratuitous,” he said. “There are pieces that don’t earn their length, and they’re called ‘boring.'”

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