October 2012 issue of Reason
|Categories||general interest, public policy|
|Frequency||11 issues annually|
|First issue||May 1968|
Reason is an American libertarian monthly magazine published by the Reason Foundation. The magazine has a circulation of around 50,000 and was named one of the 50 best magazines in 2003 and 2004 by the Chicago Tribune.
Reason was founded in 1968 by Lanny Friedlander (1947-2011), a student at Boston University, as a more-or-less monthly mimeographed publication. In 1970 it was purchased by Robert W. Poole, Jr., Manuel S. Klausner, and Tibor R. Machan, who set it on a more regular publishing schedule. As the monthly print magazine of "free minds and free markets", it covers politics, culture, and ideas with a mix of news, analysis, commentary, and reviews.
During the 1970s and 80s, the magazine's contributors included Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, Thomas Szasz, and Thomas Sowell. In 1978, Poole, Klausner, and Machan created the associated Reason Foundation, in order to expand the magazine's ideas into policy research.Marty Zupan joined Reason in 1975, and served through the 1980s as managing editor and editor-in-chief, leaving in 1989.
Virginia Postrel was editor-in-chief of the magazine from July 1989 to January 2000. She founded the magazine's website in 1995.Nick Gillespie became editor-in-chief in 2000.Erik Spiekermann, the designer of the Meta typeface, headed a redesign of Reason in 2001, aiming for a look that is "cleaner, more modern, making use of the Meta typeface throughout".
In June 2004, subscribers to Reason magazine received a personalized issue that had their name, and a satellite photo of their home or workplace on the cover. The concept was to demonstrate the power of public databases, as well as the customized printing capabilities of Xeikon's printer, according to then editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie. The move was seen by David Carr of The New York Times as "the ultimate in customized publishing", as well as "a remarkable demonstration of the growing number of ways databases can be harnessed."
In 2008, Reason's web site was named a Webby Award Honoree in the magazine category. That same year, Matt Welch became magazine's editor-in-chief, with Gillespie becoming editor-in-chief of reason.tv. In 2011, Gillespie and Welch published The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America.
Katherine Mangu-Ward became the magazine's editor-in-chief in June 2016, with Welch moving to an editor-at-large position. Other Reason editors include Jacob Sullum, Jesse Walker, Brian Doherty, Peter Suderman, and Damon Root; contributors include Ronald Bailey, Greg Beato, Cathy Young, and cartoonist Peter Bagge.
Reason Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by donations and sale of its publications. Its largest donors are the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation ($1,522,212) and the Sarah Scaife Foundation ($2,016,000), according to disclosures. Other major donors are Donors Trust and Donors Capitol Fund, which in turn do not reveal their donors. The Reason Foundation is part of the libertarian Atlas Network,, the State Policy Network and ALEC.
Together with a number of other Atlas Foundation partners, the Reason Foundation has received funding from Philip Morris. Reason magazine has published a number of articles writing favorably on tobacco issues, and senior editor Jacob Sullum has been supportive of the tobacco industry.
Hit & Run is Reason's group blog. It is maintained and written by the staff of the magazine. It was started in 2002. Then-editor Gillespie and then-Web editor Tim Cavanaugh, both veterans of Suck.com, modeled the blog in some ways after that website: they brought along several other Suck.com writers to contribute, fostered a style in the blog matching that former website's sarcastic attitude, and even the name "Hit & Run" was taken from what had been a weekly news roundup column on Suck.com. Reason editors referred to this co-opting of the former website as the "Suck-ification of Reason."
Reason TV is a website affiliated with Reason magazine that produces short-form documentaries and video editorials. Nick Gillespie is editor-in-chief. The site produced a series of videos called The Drew Carey Project hosted by comedian Drew Carey. Reason.tv teamed with Carey again in 2009 to produce "Reason Saves Cleveland," in which Carey suggested free market solutions to his hometown's problems.