Former Harper's Editor Roger Hodge to Lead Oxford American

Roger Hodge, editor of Harper's Magazine from 2006 to 2010, is now editor of The Oxford American, the magazine announced Monday.

Hodge, a Texas native who lives in New York City, will succeed founding editor Marc Smirnoff, who was fired in July. In 2010, Hodge published "The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism," a critique of the Obama administration.

Oxford American Publisher Warwick Sabin confirmed the hire to Arkansas Business. Hodge went on The Oxford American's payroll Sept. 1 and is responsible for the print magazine and online content, Sabin said.

"Roger was on my short list from the beginning because there are very few people with major magazine editing experience who have a Southern background and are particularly qualified in literary publishing," he said.

"Regardless of the circumstances that led to his appointment, Roger Hodge is the perfect person to helm The Oxford American at this time. He's just an outstanding editor. His credentials are impeccable. We couldn't ask for a better person. It's like getting a marquee player in any sport," Sabin said.

Sabin declined to reveal Hodge's salary. Smirnoff was paid $50,000 in salary, plus $3,414 in other compensation, as editor in calendar year 2010, according to the magazine's IRS Form 990.  

Smirnoff, who founded the self-proclaimed "Southern magazine of good writing" in Oxford, Miss., in 1992, led the publication through three incarnations.

Smirnoff was fired at the same time as Carol Ann Fitzgerald, managing editor and art editor.

Wes Enzinna, a senior editor of the magazine and a name brought up in the published crossfire between Smirnoff and the remaining leadership of The Oxford American, left the magazine Friday. Enzinna has taken a job with Vice magazine in New York, Sabin said. 

Sabin has focused on replacing Smirnoff since the firings, rather than on making other hires.

"My priority was to put a permanent editor in place so that person could constitute their own staff," he said. Hodge will relocate to Arkansas.  

Sam Eifling, a former Arkansas Business assistant editor, interned at Harper's in 2006.

"His staff at Harper's regarded him as a genuine intellectual, a superior writer and a calm (to the point of quiet) presence in the office," Eifling said of Hodge in an email.  "He worked his way up from intern to editor-in-chief there, and he oversaw some formidable editorial successes there. Guaranteed, a huge swath of the East Coast literary and journalistic establishment just became instantly fascinated with whatever the OA does next."

Most recently, the magazine has been produced with help from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

Now officially a nonprofit organization, the magazine has an office in Little Rock and at UCA. It has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and is planning to transform a 15,000-SF space on Main Street in Little Rock into a site for nightly cultural programs and a Southern restaurant

Hodge will speak on his vision for The Oxford American at 6 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, as part of the school's Distinguished Speaker Series.