Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Debating at the Water Cooler

Posted by Caitlin Endyke

A little background before I begin. As Kim mentioned when I started writing for this blog, I work at the Building Movement Project, which is an affiliate program of the national think-tank Demos.  From the spring of 2010 until the fall of 2012, Demos operated in partnership with The American Prospect, a national progressive magazine.  While no longer officially affiliated, the organizations maintain a close working relationship.

This explains why earlier this week the staff received notice of this article, published in the New York Times, about how The American Prospect recently decided to lease part of their office space in DC to The American Conservative, another magazine that is self-described as “the bastion of traditional conservatism”. The two publications will share one floor of an office building on Rhode Island Avenue.

Apparently the lease agreement was first pitched over a lunch meeting between the publishers of the two publications, who were both facing tough economic prospects in a time hard on print journalism.  Each staff was consulted separately, and the overall conclusion was that, while the magazines certainly had very different political ideologies, they each respected the journalistic integrity of the other and therefore agreed to the arrangement. Staffers from both sides quoted in the article mention that they see the new configuration of space as mutually beneficial, and not just financially.  A web editor from The Conservative notes, “Since we do not directly compete, we can only benefit from sharing ideas, formally and informally”.

So, on the 12th floor of an office building in Washington, DC, we at least have one example of two entities, each on an opposite end of the ideological spectrum, coming together in shared respect to find a creative solution for a problem both are facing.  They’ve created a (literal) common space to work, interact, and, I’m sure, debate- all for a mutual benefit.  At a time when it seems as though people on either side of the political divide can barely agree on a place for lunch, never mind a real estate contract, perhaps these magazines have a few things to teach their DC neighbors on Capitol Hill.

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