Victor Navasky Now Playing Key Role at ‘CJR’

By: Graham Webster

Victor Navasky, publisher and former editor of The Nation, has been working behind the scenes in a key, if uncredited, role at the Columbia Journalism Review, CJR executive editor Michael Hoyt told E&P Wednesday.

“It’s been gradual,” Hoyt told E&P. Nicholas Lemann, dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism (where Navasky has taught) “asked him to take a role because we have both a Web site we’re trying to develop and a magazine we’re trying to get over some financial hurdles.”

Navasky, whose name does not currently showup on the CJR masthead, told E&P today that he will appear there next issue as “chairman.”

He has been meeting with staff “on Fridays to talk business side for a few months,” Hoyt said. Hoyt told E&P that he and CJR publisher Evan Cornog report to Navasky, who in turn reports to Lemann.

As for whether having the longtime editor of a magazine with a famously political (liberal) bent involved in the administration of CJR, Hoyt said appearances might not match with reality. “It could give somebody an opportunity to make a connection, but the connection is not there,” Hoyt said. “He doesn’t push anything editorially.”

Navasky said: “I’ve made clear to the dean and everybody else that if there is any conflict with the Nation, I will recuse myself from any considerations or anything that has to do with it.

“I raised the public relations part of it with Nick when he asked me to do this,” he said, noting that some people may forget his pre-Nation history at The New York Times and elsewhere. He would not have taken the job, he said, “if I didn’t think I could do it fairly.”

The fact that Navasky is now advising at CJR was first reported on a blog known only as “David M” yesterday.

Hoyt, who called Navasky’s role “99% financial,” said the Nation editor doesn’t make editorial decisions at CJR. “He’s learned how to get a small magazine of ideas into the black, and he’s trying to come up with some strategies for us,” Hoyt said.

Navasky’s autobiography “A Matter of Opinion,” was recently published and has drawn wide notice.

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