Monday, February 9, 2009

Newsweek as Journal of Opinion

It's been coming for some time now, but as the New York Times reports, Newsweek magazine is undergoing a big makeover, essentially transforming itself into a journal of opinion:

Newsweek is about to begin a major change in its identity, with a new design, a much smaller and, it hopes, more affluent readership, and some shifts in content. The venerable newsweekly’s ingrained role of obligatory coverage of the week’s big events will be abandoned once and for all, executives say.

“There’s a phrase in the culture, ‘we need to take note of,’ ‘we need to weigh in on,’ ” said Newsweek’s editor, Jon Meacham. “That’s going away. If we don’t have something original to say, we won’t. The drill of chasing the week’s news to add a couple of hard-fought new details is not sustainable.”

Newsweek loses money, and the consensus within its parent, the Washington Post Company, and among industry analysts, is that it has to try something big. The magazine is betting that the answer lies in changing both itself and its audience, and getting the audience to pay more.

A deep-rooted part of the newsweekly culture has been to serve a mass audience, but that market has been shrinking, and new subscribers come at a high price in call centers, advertising and deeply discounted subscriptions.
As readers here may recall, the shift at Newsweek to a journal of opinion is already well underway. The magazine's still newsy and glossy, but its recent marquee essays would be right at home at the American Prospect or Washington Monthly - that is, hardline leftist outlets for big government advocacy and the culture of anything-goes nihilism.

Recall, Newsweek's big cover story last month, "
The Religious Case for Gay Marriage" (which was a disaster, as I pointed out at the time).

Also, Jon Meacham's essay this week on the growth of big government, "
We Are All Socialists Now," is even worse, being an essay that's founded in a degree of journalistic dishonesty that seems to have been emboldened by the election of Barack Obama.

Only time will tell if Newsweek's making the right decision.

I doubt the reading public needs more left-wing editorial sources. Other newsweeklies are making changes as well (U.S. News has gone monthly in print, but is aiming to keep
a major online news presence), so we'll see how the American print media shakes out even further going ahead.

As longtime Newsweek reader, I'm simply dismayed that the route to survival for the magazine is to sell-out its credibility as an objective news source by attempting to rescue itself by pigging-backing off of Obamesssianism.


shoprat said...

Now if we can get the rest of the MSM to be so honest. There really is no totally objective news source.