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Friday, 19 October 2012


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I don't understand your attitude toward Tina Brown. As much as I've always disliked the New Yorker, I think she saved it from its own self-regard; it would have burned to the ground by now, just like Newsweek, if it had continued in that direction. And she was most famous, in some communities anyway, as the first New Yorker editor to take photography seriously as an art form. I think if you look at her Wiki entry -- not on her celebrity chasing, but the people she hired to work there, and the people who supported her -- instead of ruminating about her personality, you would change your mind. My favorite quote from the Wiki article:

Anxieties that Brown might change the identity of The New Yorker as a cultural institution prompted a number of resignations. Of them George Trow, who had been with the magazine for almost three decades, accused Brown of "kissing the ass of celebrity" in his resignation letter. (To which Brown reportedly replied "I am distraught at your defection but since you never actually write anything I should say I am notionally distraught.")

It looks like there were not enough readers interested in a magazine pulling stunts like these two, for example:



"Tina Brown, wrecker of worlds" — Now she'll think you're awful.

I am with you in your appraisal of the woman.

I decided I'd let my Newsweek subscription of some 30 years lapse this fall because of the way the magazine has gone downhill recently. It's no longer worth my time and money, print or digital. How ironic that the week after it lapsed, they announce they're not going to have a printed edition anymore.

The tense in the blog title is incorrect: NEWSWEEK will cease print production on Dec 31st 2012.

Good Riddance. I was quite happy to cancel our Gannett "Newspaper" as well... I want to support free, competent journalism, not trash.

Rags in general like newspapers are in trouble. It's all instant and electronic now.

On a side note I find the top shot somewhat sexy but is the Newsweek cover the place for this photo? Maybe a last ditch effort to keep the ship from sinking.

I have come to regard "The New Yorker" as the best general interest magazine in the U.S. To the extent that Tina Brown moved it in its current direction, she deserves credit.

Pictures or none, weekly newsmagazines are relics of a bygone information era. Subscribing to a by-mail rendition of last week's news seems positively insane to young people. And, today, they're absolutely right: it's insane.

I don't think it's "insane"--there's nothing inherently unfeasible about a week-in-review sort of publication. "The Week" is a digest about news from the week and synopses of commentary from around the western world, and they seem to be doing okay.


It's just that people won't be GETTING their news from a weekly magazine. But then, hasn't that been true since the advent of television and the six o'clock news? Certainly since the advent of 24-hour news stations on cable TV.

It's tough to know whether Newsweek is one of a dying breed or just a dying one of a breed, if you get my drift. Maybe it just lost its way and made itself irrelevant. I personally think that the web hasn't made newspapers unneeded, for instance, it's just made it so that SO MANY newspapers aren't needed--we can really get by with half a dozen or a dozen that anybody can access instantly. We still need them. We just don't need them in every city every day.

Probably the same is true of magazines--we're in an adjustment period, for sure, but that doesn't mean that ALL magazines are inevitably going away. We just need fewer of them, and we probably need them to do different things. To me, for instance, The Week is useful; Newsweek wasn't. The New York Times is definitely useful (although I read it electronically); the Waukesha Freeman isn't.


In some ways, I think Tina Brown saved The New Yorker, gave them a sincerely needed kick in the pants. But it wasn't needed for too long. They had lost a lot of brashness they once had.

Been very happy with Seymour Hersh's work in The New Yorker.

But the only news weekly I find worth reading is The Economist. But it's a huge time investment to read even one issue. Time and Newsweek are fluff in comparison.

What has Newsweek done to merit all those upper case letters?

John Shriver mentioned the Economist - Their sister publication "Intelligent Life" makes a good companion, and has some stuff worth reading, as well as good photography in the "Sunday Supplement" style. The iPad edition works nicely as well.

"But the only news weekly I find worth reading is The Economist."

I'd like to recommend the New Statesman. A stimulating read.

I also agree with John Shriver's comment that Tina Brown gave the New Yorker a needed kick in the pants.

I love the New Yorker. About ten years ago, I visited Elizabeth Biondi in her office and I can still recall the thrlll when I saw those venerated covers on the corridor walls.

When Anderson And Young (think it was them) were hired to figure out where Conde Nast could make budgetary cuts-no Town Cars to collect your laundry etc, they were instructed not to touch the New Yorker. It's a very special publication.

I was a long time subscriber to Newsweek back in the 80's and 90's, mostly because I saw it as a pretty well balanced periodical against the right wing slanted Time, but I have to agree with Carl Blesch, I picked one up off the news stand a while back, and it was literally a pamphlet, not worth what anyone is willing to pay for it.

We have a similar problem here going on with the local paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. They've been through about 4 layoffs in the past three years, and each layoff and cut-back puts less local editorial content, and less local, well-researched and vetted editorial content, in the paper. They keep CLAIMING that they aren't letting people go from the content departments, but that doesn't mean that scads of very smart people with institutional knowledge of the city, haven't left, taking early retirements, and haven't been replaced.

The Milwaukee J/S has a long history of not knowing how to manage print, in an era where sharp management practices are going to be what saves printed media. They've run into ruin three magazine titles within the last six years, when they had opportunities to grow those vehicles through interesting story assignment and promotion. They killed them mostly through hiring marginal editorial people, then tying their hands about doing anything by cutting all expenses for story production, hoping just to use the vehicles for ad package placement for their current advertisers.

The latest death on their hands is the well-regarded Wisconsin Trails, a long beloved "up-north" magazine, that they bought a while back and then ran into the ground with poor editorial policies and refusal to pay to hire decent personnel. There was an opportunity to turn it into the mid-west version of Garden and Gun, but they didn't have the values and intelligence to do it, so they let it die a five year death of a "thousand cuts".

For all those people that say print is dead, I maintain that print can be done correctly, and at a profit, with the correct level of intelligence at the helm. And I've always said, those people who always tell me they "read" on line, well, if you really find out what they're doing, they aren't "reading", they're scanning, and they aren't getting near enough info out of on-line stories that they would have in the old days. Maybe those people just wouldn't be reading, period, today, if the internet didn't exist.

The Economist is the only news magazine I pay for, but more for the in-depth coverage and analysis of topics that interest me than for news. Arts reviews and science updates are excellent and obituaries usually an interesting surprise.

Politically it is relatively left-wing on social issues (by US standards, AFIK) and economically right-wing (by European). They claim to be "liberal" in the original sense of the word (not much of an insult, here in the UK).

Another vote for the Economist. They also figured out how to make an iPad version that is downloadable in a few seconds.

I will not miss it, though I hope that our friend Peter Turnley won't be adversely affected by this turn of events.

Peter's been retired from Newsweek for some while now.


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