The Believer magazine will publish its final issue under the auspices of the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute (BMI), which is hosted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) College of Liberal Arts, next year: Issue No. 139 is scheduled to be published in February/March of 2022. UNLV called the decision to kill the publication “part of a strategic realignment within the college and BMI as it emerges from the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“This was not an easy decision but a necessary one, unfortunately,” Jennifer Keene, dean of UNLV’s College of Liberal Arts, said in a statement. “The Believer consumed a significant portion of BMI’s resources. After reviewing the data with internal and external stakeholders, it was clear that there was no path forward to continue publishing the magazine.”
The Believer, which was founded in 2003 by Heidi Julavits, Vendela Vida, and Ed Park, has faced financial troubles before. It was published by McSweeney’s, the independent press founded in 1998 by Dave Eggers (Vida’s husband), until 2015, when the magazine folded for the first time. (BMI began publishing the magazine in 2017.) Still, the decision by BMI to divest itself of the magazine comes on the heels of a particularly thorny year for the Believer—and one in which what was presumably its largest salary on staff was removed from the payroll.
In April, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Joshua Wolf Shenk, who also served as artistic and executive director of BMI, resigned following a widely-reported incident of Zoom-related nudity, which was initially reported by the Los Angeles Times. Later reporting, and an open letter that criticized the Times‘s reporting that was published on Medium by Believer staffers, complicated the story—as did a later story from the Times pointing to complaints that had been made about Shenk prior to his resignation. Since the incident, a number of the Believer‘s senior employees left the magazine.
In its release announcing the Believer‘s folding, BMI cited a number of other literary initiatives it funds in Las Vegas, including its involvement with the City of Asylum program and “a literary festival.” It is unclear as to whether that festival is the Believer Festival, which, as per its website, is still slated to be held next April as of this article’s time of publication.