Most Recent Articles In Memo Pad
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FOREIGN FOCUS: “First this was a Tunisia crisis, then it was an Egypt crisis, then it was a regional crisis,” said Gideon Rose, the editor of Foreign Affairs. “Then of course the Libyan war starts breaking just as we’re literally in close and you’re desperately searching around.” He was talking a mile a minute while driving across Vermont to the airport from speaking appearances at the University of Vermont and Middlebury College, where he was promoting his book published last fall, “How Wars End” (“Suddenly a timely topic,” he wrote by e-mail on Friday).
Since upheaval began spreading throughout the Middle East in January, there has been an overwhelming number of international events to analyze, especially for a bimonthly journal that prides itself on analysis, not news coverage. The magazine has a six-week lead time and sits on newsstands for two months. Rose, who took over Foreign Affairs from longtime editor Jim Hoge, said his goal for stories about the Middle East in the May-June issue, which closed last week, one week behind schedule, was to “keep the pieces from being O.B.E. — overtaken by events — but not at the price of making them so abstract and 30,000-foot vantage point that they were boring and nobody wanted to read them.” Foreign Affairs isn’t paying much attention to the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan, according to Rose. “We’re not a news magazine,” he said.
But the revolutions in the Arab world have added up to great business in New York. “We’ve had a banner spring,” Rose said. “I sometimes joke the crises are bad for the world and good for the magazine.” The magazine is bundling all of its coverage from the Middle East into an e-book in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations. Since mid-January, when the revolutions started to unfold, the magazine’s total subscription sales have increased by 24 percent; online unique visitors to the Foreign Affairs Web site are up 28 percent. The business team at Foreign Policy, the Washington Post Co.’s competitor in the international relations analysis category, reported similar numbers. Unique visitors to the Foreign Policy site increased 54 percent for January and February 2011, over last year.
“It reminds you why you went into this business in the first place,” Rose said. “If somebody has been in the reporting or analysis or study of international affairs profession and they weren’t dramatically seized by what has been happening the last several months — fascinated by it and got all their juices flowing — then they’re in the wrong field.” He said his family had “taken umbrage” at his absence during long hours at work. “You feel a little guilty about that,” he said. “But you feel more guilty about not feeling guilty.”
— ZEKE TURNER