Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tina Brown Just Killed Newsweek

I think I might cry.  Newsweek has been my magazine since I was old enough to read.  It's the only magazine I have a subscription to.

The internet sucks.



  1. Hugs! I'm sad that you're sad :-(

    For someone who has no familiarity to Newsweek, wanna tell me more? Is it that they make no profit because people expect to read good, informative articles free of charge on the internet (or bad, uniformative ones, since a lot of people do not seem to know the difference)? In that case, I think I might hate people. Oh, wait, I DO hate people. Since a while back, in fact...

    1. People can be very hate-able... :)

      I'm not 100% clear on how it all happened that Tina Brown wound up in charge of Newsweek, but she did a while back and when that happened, the magazine merged with The Daily Beast website. I always thought that was weird...and probably not a good sign for the future of the magazine...but for quite some time now, the magazine has continued and the website has continued and they fed off of each other but were (kind of) separate entities.

      Now, for budgetary reasons but also for reasons of "moving with the times," the magazine is switching to an e-format only, meaning you still have to pay, but there won't be a printed version and a lot of the content will be on The Daily Beast website for free. Personally, I don't see how Newsweek, in *any* form, could possibly survive that way. I would think that its main demographic would be older and not necessarily interested in reading off a screen anyway...

      My parents saw an interview with Tina Brown where she was going on about how this was the "future" because "everyone" has tablets now anyway., they don't! To my way of thinking, making everything electronic cheapens real journalism. How are you going to be able to get people to read good stuff when (as you aptly pointed out!!), in the electronic world especially, they already can't tell the difference between good information and bad? And worse yet, how are you going to get anyone to *write* good stuff if there isn't a system in place wherein you can make a living doing so?

      I know I'm taking something relatively small here and making it out to be the end of the world, but I'm having a really hard time envisioning this as anything but limiting accessibility to good content. No more picking up a copy because it catches your eye at the grocery store. No more flipping through an issue while waiting at the dentist's office. Just this past week, Newsweek had a really great cover story on Abraham Lincoln. And when this story broke, I just thought, 'Where else am I going to read articles like that now?!'

      The whole things just makes me sad. :(

    2. YES to like everything you just wrote! I totally agree, to an extent where it feels like I could just repeat every word you said. WHY do people insist that "everyone" has access to stuff digitally?! They don't! It's so narrowminded and excludes so many people from "everyone". It goes from smartphones to facebook to tablets - within a certain demographic they're extremely common but that's far from everyone, but by keep treating it like in fact EVERYONE has these devices you eventually force people to get them because being without them makes it harder to have access to basic sociatal services. It's disgracefull. Like over here, we don't have phone books anymore because allegedle "everyone" looks up phone numbers online, but that is only true for younger generations. My mother's first choice would still be to consult a phone book because she doesn't even use her computer everyday, but now she increasingly feels like she has to, because of things like that. And in a larger perspective that means more people using more electricity, having to change computers more often for upgrading and so on.

      And there is such a difference, at least to me, to, like you said, flipping through magazines randomly - seeing a headline that catches your attention which ends up with you buying the magazine, and actively looking for stuff online. Of course, you can stumble upon things there as well, but there is so much to choose from and you'll have to move beyond your surf habits to find things you wouldn't normally find. And on top of that there's just SO MUCH information everywhere, for the uncritical eye (and even for the critical one) it can be hard to determine the credability of stuff that you find. And since a lot it free anyway and you can't really see the difference between that and the things you have to pay for, why would you pay? And if no one pays, who's gonna write the critical, in depth analizies of society that we need to maintain our democracy, if that work doesn't even pay? Journalism is the third state power, and it's bleeding important! I hate all these things that just drains its potential and disarms its abilities :-(

      OK, wow, end of rant...

    3. Yes, yes, and YES!! All I can do is echo what you said at the start of your comment and say that I completely agree with everything you wrote! I don’t even have anything to add, except to say that I’m amazed we still have phonebooks here, but undoubtedly it’s only a matter of time…

      This whole situation has made me want to subscribe to more magazines. Also, it makes me even more so than before want to resist adapting new technologies simply because they’re new technologies. I still haven’t written the entry that I should have long ago, about a book called The Shallows, which talks about the literal *physical* changes that occur in the brain when you spend more time intaking your information from online sources. Needless to say, I can’t think of a single way in which digitizing a magazine would ever make its content more likely to be read in a thoughtful manner...and the last thing in the world we need right now is people reading less thoughtfully… :-/

    4. This is awesome, I love it when people agree with me ;-)

      I try to resist as many new technologies as I can when they're not absolutely necessary (which currently puts me in a dilemma - my new iPod that was given to me as a gift broke and my old one still works but obviously doesn't have all the functions and gadgets that the one has and I feel a craving to buy the newest model and an obligation to my self and my ideals not to, as long as the old one still works. Gah. It'd be so much easier to just be ignorant and irresponsible...) But you can only resist so much. Over here, the only alternative to buying a bus ticket with a pre-paid card is to buy one with your smartphone, so if you've lost your card, or forgot it, you're kind of screwed if you don't have a cell phone with those functions. It makes it easier for a lot of people, but it makes it impossible and totally inaccessable for a lot of people as well.

      Adn with books and magazines I have to admit that I am strictly old school. Paper does the trick for me, no exception.

  2. I was very sad when I heard about this change as well : ( (And I thought of you and the Newsweek that is always on your living room chair!) My sister started getting Newsweek in HS when she was on the debate team, and I would read it for fun. Newsweek and NPR were actual very integral in my decisions about majors in college and graduate school. I think since I enjoyed immersing myself in political and social welfare news at a young age, I thought I might as well make a career out of it!

    I don't understand why they couldn't have switched it up to a monthly magazine to keep the print edition alive.

    - Megan

    1. I would totally subscribe to a monthly version! I know that I have no clue as to what specifics led to this decision, but the pessimist in me thinks that this change has been in the works for a while and was maybe pushed at the expense of other options. The pressure to switch to e-formats is pretty overwhelming right now, I know...but I don't have to like it. :(

      The thing about Newsweek is that it's informed me on SO MUCH over the years. It's been as integral as Brian Williams (or NPR for you :)) in keeping me up to date with the stories of the moment. But the beauty was always that, as a magazine, it was able to go in depth - covering absolutely everything, from war to pop culture, in a way that got beyond the headlines.

      I'm torn on subscribing to the electronic version. Knowing my reading habits as I do, I'm seriously considering abandoning Newsweek altogether and just getting a subscription to Time. And God does it hurt me to have to type those words... :(