I've always gone with Kafka's model of establishing the world from the first line, as in Kafka's famous line from Metamorphosis, "Gregor Samsa woke up from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed into a gigantic insect" (or beetle or cockroach, depending on the translation). I have to have that first line before I can go further.
We've never had a giant circulation. And we've always been a magazine for writers and for sophisticated readers. We've never had to run stories that would appeal to a million people. And what you end up with is a kind of tradition that might have staying power - the cockroach after armageddon.
Man wants to see nature and evolution as separate from human activities. There is a natural world, and there is man. But man also belongs to the natural world. If he is a ferocious predator, that too is part of evolution. If cod and haddock and other species cannot survive because man kills them, something more adaptable will take their place. Nature, the ultimate pragmatist, doggedly searches for something that works. But as the cockroach demonstrates, what works best in nature does not always appeal to us.