Wednesday, October 24, 2012

1087 Another Magazine Bites the Dust

1087  Another Magazine Bites the Dust


Tina Brown is a wrecking ball and her aim is excellent. Now that she’s had at it at Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and Talk Magazine, she’s taken a swing at Newsweek which will end print publication as of 12/31/12.  

The death of Newsweek is not entirely her fault.   But she’s the one tethered to a crane smacking the thing at high speed and making sure the lights were turned out first.

The weekly news magazines have become irrelevant.  US News & World Report went digital-only a long time ago.   And a long time after its then- president John Sweet made the commercial in which he said US News “...spares our readers unimportant news and spares our advertisers unimportant readers.”

US News, all digital now except occasionally, has found its niche, reporting on the best colleges, and other best these and thats.

Time Magazine still limps along, straw thin and with an emphysematous cough.

But Newsweek, as part of the Daily Beast website is soon to be but a memory and the left over slick paper doesn’t even make for good fish wrapping.

Tina’s Big Contribution to the New Yorker was to shed everything about it that made it the New Yorker.  Talk magazine served no purpose.  Her Big Contribution to Newsweek was odd covers that didn’t “sell the book” to use magazine industry jargon.

Blame it on the internet?  Blame it on the impending death of ink and paper?  No.  Sorry.  Not this time.  Other magazines (“The Week,” “The Economist” and some others are flourishing.)  Content.  That’s what readers want.  Not weird covers and stupidly screaming headlines.

Newsweek has become a magazine with nothing to say and an unattractive way of not saying it.

Where are the Jonathan Alters and Alan Sloans and Peter Boyers?  And who replaced them?  No one, really.  But some of the abandoned slots they occupied have been filled with... who? (Alter went to Bloomberg View, Sloan has been with Fortune for a long time, Boyer is at Fox News.)

Riveting articles like “How Many Facebook Friends Do You Need?” and “Full Figured Models” isn’t exactly stuff that sells magazines.

Sure, the media world is changing.  And fast.  Magazines are expensive to produce and often out of date by the time they leave the printing plant.  But there’s still room for the printed word as recent startups and some old favorites are proving.

So here’s a question:  If Newsweek continued to print and nobody read it, would it still exist?  

Tina would do us all a favor if she would assume responsibility for the preposterous direction in which she’s taken Newsweek.  And she should go back to writing books.  There’s still an audience for stuff like “Life as a Party” and the “Diana Chronicles,” especially for those who reflexively consider anything British as “reading up.”  

Meantime, if you need something demolished... you know who to call.

Shrapnel:

--The third debate: Romney reminded me of my 1959 Rambler, built by his father’s company, AMC.  It lurched and sputtered and coughed and parts fell off, including the drive shaft and the trunk lid.  Note to the picky... I posted this on facebook before posting it here.

--RIP Jerome Karpf, Jr., aka Jerry Carr, former program director of WHLI radio,   Hempstead, who passed away recently at the age of 93.  A second generation newspaperman turned broadcaster, a herder of cats and a man who oozed competence, stability and natural culture and who commanded respect without trying.  Only a  few months ago, Jerry’s lights were as bright as ever, and he was engaged, aware and sharp in 2012 as he was in 1960.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments and invitations to celebrity parties in London to wesrichards@gmail.com.
© WJR 2012

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