Those who say long-form journalism is in decline haven’t yet met Roger Hodge. The New School for Social Research philosophy alumnus and previous editor of Harper’s magazine is on a mission to bring back what he terms “the vital narratives that help [people] make sense of a disorienting world.”
It’s a crusade recently put into motion with the announcement of his latest position—editor-in-chief of The Oxford American. Only the second to hold the position in the magazine’s history, he succeeds Marc Smirnoff, who founded the “feisty, Southern journal of arts and culture” in 1992 and served as its editor until July 2012.
After pursuing his bachelor’s degree in comparative literature at the University of the South, Hodge began graduate work at The New School for Social Research and completed a master’s degree in philosophy. He started a freelance journalism career in 1989 in North Carolina before being hired as a fact checker for Harper’s in 1996. He joined the acclaimed “Readings” section in 1997, becoming editor from 1999 to 2003. Hodge is credited with greatly strengthening the section’s political and literary focus. In the fall of 2003, he left the “Readings” section to oversee the redesign of Harpers.org, after which he was appointed deputy editor and then editor in 2004 and 2006, respectively.
In looking to provide an alternative to the 24-hour news cycle, Hodge plans on placing greater emphasis on extended narrative. “What I can bring to this magazine,” Hodge said in a recent interview with the New York Times, “is experience with long-form pieces, literary journalism that is vital and important to readers.”
He will oversee a magazine with nearly 20,000 subscribers that sells close to 15,000 copies per edition. The magazine is headquartered in the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Ark., and has an editorial staff of 10.