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'Modern Farmer' Owner Says It Will Live On, Despite Staff Exit

<em>Modern Farmer</em> has a particular fondness for stories about anything having to do with goats.
Courtesy of Modern Farmer
Modern Farmer has a particular fondness for stories about anything having to do with goats.

A hip chronicle of ag life isn't dead yet, the owner of Modern Farmer says. The National Magazine Award winner lost its last paid editorial staff Friday, The New York Times reports. But the story comes with a clarification: Modern Farmer's owner says he'll publish again this summer.

Despite that plan, several people associated with Modern Farmertweeted their farewells to the magazine that became known for printing arch photos of handsome animals and writing headlines that once made some here at NPR wonder if the magazine was "a kind agricultural version of The Onion."

Here's a sampling, from former managing editor Molly Birnbaum, former deputy editor Reyhan Harmanci and contributing writer Monica Kim:

They were responding to news that the last two editors at Modern Farmer had decided it was time to go, meaning two interns were all that remained of the editorial staff, The New York Times reported.

But Friday afternoon, Modern Farmer's official accounts on Twitter and Facebook broadcast the same message: "The rumors of our death are greatly exaggerated...stay tuned for our summer issue!"

The Times added a correction to its story, apparently after receiving a statement from representatives of the magazine's owner, Canadian businessman Frank Giustra.

The newspaper said:

"An earlier version of this article referred imprecisely to the status of Modern Farmer. The magazine has suspended, rather than ceased, publication. Although the paid editorial staff has left and advertisers have been told there will be no spring issue, a public relations firm for the owner said he had plans to hire new staff and publish in the summer."

Today's news follows the departure last month of Modern Farmer's founding editor-in-chief, Ann Marie Gardner, who ran the magazine out of Hudson, New York.

Since it began publication in 2013, the magazine had attracted a small but devoted following, Gardner told NPR's The Salt back in October. She added that its finances were finally getting on track.

Gardner acknowledged that her staff both had fun and took farming very seriously, and that the magazine had found a certain niche, through its website and social media.

NPR's Allison Aubrey and Dan Charles wrote:

"Ask her about some of her favorite headlines, though, and Gardner collapses into giggles. Modern Farmer has a particular fondness for stories about crime on the farm, as well as anything having to do with goats. 'Goats are kind of the Cats of Buzzfeed for us," she says. 'They're just always a winner.' "

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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