Much about Boston Review has changed since it was first published 35 years ago. The only constant, apart from the name, has been the tabloid format. With the September/October 2010 issue, that, too, has changed. Want to see for yourself? The first 25 readers to email us feedback on the new cover will each get a free copy of the issue. (Be sure to include your mailing address in your message. U.S. addresses only, due to international shipping rates.)
Our idea in relaunching was to do better what we have always done, do some new things equally well, and start looking the part that we have come to play in national debate. It was time to drop somber tabloid in favor of simple, confident, and colorful. We hope you find the new look inviting.
As for the old stuff that we plan to do better, our longtime commitment is crystallized on our new logo: Ideas Matter. Ideas matter, so they should be taken seriously. That means evaluating them with evidence and argument, and subjecting them to sharp criticism. In short, putting important ideas to the test of reason.
Because we are dedicated to that exacting test, BR isn’t a platform for an ideology, or a place for mutual backslapping by the likeminded. And we leave screech and mockery in the many skilled hands that are already working overtime with those destructive tools.
Of course, we are not just for evidence, argument, and criticism. We also have convictions: that life chances should not reflect morally irrelevant differences, that democracy requires the kind of discussion that happens on our pages, and that a vibrant culture demands vivid imagination and a sense of possibility. Those convictions guide our range of topics and authors; in this issue: Larry Lessig on money and democracy; Pam Karlan in a regular column on constitutional law; Bill Hogeland pushing back against familiar criticisms of populism; Vivian Gornick’s bracing portrait of the Tolstoy marriage; and Arthur Vogelsang’s provocative and funny meditation on metaphysics and art.
But, why, you might ask, relaunch in print? And with articles too long to tweet? These questions rest on the misguided belief that old and new media are locked in mortal combat. The current media ecology is complicated and challenging, but we are convinced that print—and depth—have an important place in it. And keep an eye out for new developments on this site (and follow the developments on twitter and Facebook).
Born from hopes, projects come to life in relationships. We are grateful to all the friends of Boston Review who have supported us through this relaunch, and especially our friends at the EGG Foundation for their confidence in our project. We send our best to Saleem Shahzad, who was shot just days after submitting his dispatch (and is fortunately out of danger). We note, with great sadness, the passing of Steve Schneider, climate scientist and devoted friend of the earth, whose Boston Review book (with Michael Mastrandrea) will appear this fall from MIT Press. And we wish to thank our contributors for their remarkable work. We hope the new BR is as creative as they are.
In the end, though, a magazine is a relationship with readers. So let us know what you think.