The NYT offers competing information as to whether Harper’s editor Rodger Hodge stepped down or was dismissed, but either way he’s been replaced by managing editor Ellen Rosenbush.
This information piqued my interest since I’ve perceived a decline in quality at Harper’s since longtime editor Lewis Lapham quit in 2006. I’ve been a subscriber for a while now (it’s hard not to when they practically give it away and let you have access to 100+ years of archives with a subscription), and there just haven’t been that many stories that have a) grabbed me; or b) felt like they were really that essential. If anything, the blog has been the site of Harper’s most consistently interesting political reporting of late, and whoever decided to give it to Scott Horton (whose piece “The Guantánamo ‘Suicides': A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle” is essential reading) made a great choice.
In terms of the book coverage, there have been some nice pieces; see, for instance, “Ways of not seeing: On the limits of design fetishism” by Mark Kingwell, or about anything Wyatt Mason has written for Harper’s recently. But there have also been some downright disappointing and/or bizarre inclusions; Dave Hickey’s essay on Reborn, Susan Sontag’s diaries, stands out as bizarre, and Francine Prose’s literary criticism has been distinctly lackluster. And I’ve long been mystified as to why they keep publishing William H. Gass’s pocket biographies of great authors instead of actual criticism.
But anyway, here’s to change and some hopes that Harper’s starts hitting the high note a little more often.