This handwriting's been on the wall since Sidney Harman (of Harman-Kardon fame) bought the magazine for one dollar* from the Washington Post Co. in 2010. That was just before he died, pursuant to which came the unholy matrimony of NEWSWEEK and The Daily Beast, under the helm of Tina Brown, wrecker of worlds. (I suppose the less said here the better; I sincerely dislike Tina Brown as an editor—don't know her as a person—and am quite astonished that she keeps finding not only employment but praise despite appearing to wreak carnage wherever she goes. I'm still grateful The New Yorker somehow survived her. Shut up now, Mike.)
Tina Brown's covers are sometimes controversial and often ridiculed...
The magazine has a local-to-me Wisconsin tie, too. It has long been printed by QuadGraphics, a huge printer of magazines and a large local employer (and a large user of Wisconsin paper, another leading local product). It was owned by philanthropist Harry Quadracci, who died a mysterious drowning death in 2002, not long after an unexplained warehouse fire. I believe QuadGraphics is the largest printer of magazines in the world; they print BusinessWeek, Time, Sports Illustrated, and People among many others. The real name of the distinctive new wing of the Milwaukee Art Museum, often called "the Calatrava addition" after its architect, is The Quadracci Pavilion. Landing the NEWSWEEK account put QuadGraphics on the map in the early '70s.
NEWSWEEK will continue in electronic format, precisely in what form it's not entirely certain. Unknown is how much original photography the transmogrified publication will support, and whether any vestige of NEWSWEEK's once edgy, risk-taking photographic style will remain.
*Any magazine carries what's called "subscription debt"—what it owes to subscribers who've paid for magazines into the future that haven't been delivered yet. A purchaser of a magazine assumes the subscription debt, among possible other debts, and a payroll, and so forth, all of which in the case of NEWSWEEK must have been substantial. So the one-dollar sale price is a little misleading—Harman took on substantial debt in acquiring the flailing magazine.
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A book of interest today:
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Chuck Albertson: "Give Tina her due—in addition to more topical covers, she introduced photography to the pages of The New Yorker."
Dwight: "How long until the end of Time?"
Mark Roberts: "Someone gave me a gift subscription to Newsweek as a birthday present this year. I hadn't read the magazine in years and when I got my first issue I was appalled: thin (in every sense of the word) and insubstantial. Their demise is well-deserved and, after their sensationalistic (and scientifically absurd) 'Heaven is Real' feature story last week, can't come soon enough as far as I'm concerned."
John Haines: "[Photography was] exactly what The New Yorker didn't need. I'm a photographer but I also like to read. After a few Tina issues I decided not to renew. I don't need to be dazzled with photographs; the reason I subscribed to The New Yorker in the first place (and for many years) is that it was a source of remarkably good writing—e.g., John McPhee."
Mike replies: It's still got a good portion of that. You should sample a few David Remnick issues. Too long on Middle Eastern politics for my taste, but a serious reader's magazine once more.