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Newsweek And The ‘F’ Word–Lousy Journalism

January 14, 2012

Not for the first time do I challenge Newsweek since the publication decided to lose journalistic integrity, and veer for a shameless attempt at securing ad dollars.  

The lame attempt with a make-over at Newsweek now insures that softer news such as the cover article on “31 Ways To Get Smarter” is the norm.  In addition, merging with the flimsy-minded Tina Brown insures that burning questions such as the future of Kim Kardashian gets actual column space. 

Needless to say this once proud national publication is not worth even the cage lining for a parrot.  I am glad to say that my subscription for Newsweek runs out at the end of February.  Oh, how I wish it had ended in December.

In the January 9th edition of Newsweek there is a story on the political campaign and that story uses the ‘f’ word, not once–but twice.  It should be noted at this point there was no need to use the word even once.  Well there is no reason to take my word for it.  Read it yourself.

The good news for Obama is that it may be harder for Republicans. While the GOP candidates have spent the last year parading and pirouetting on Fox News, the president’s team has been quietly, methodically channeling their worry back into the campaign—and creating something, I discovered in Chicago, that will be even bigger, even smarter, and even more surprising than their revolutionary 2008 operation. Before my chaperone apprehended me near the whiteboard, I noticed a photograph taped to a developer’s Mac. “Everyone chill the fuck out,” it said. “I got this.” I knew the line; it had first appeared on a JPEG of Obama, scowling and resolute, that went viral in September 2008, during one of the Democratic Party’s inveterate panic attacks. But the president wasn’t in this particular picture. In his place was the operative in charge of getting him reelected: campaign manager Jim Messina. No doubt it was a comforting mantra for the developer, and for the rest of the twitchy Chicago crew: chilled-the-fuck-out-or-not, Messina’s got this.

I am most confident in saying The Economist or any other serious publication that valued readers, and shared common agreement on good taste would not have allowed that word to have been printed.

First, I strongly suspect the reporters for The Economist would have censored themselves, and secondly the editor would have yanked the paragraph had it someone been submitted to his/her desk.

But in an attempt to lure younger, and more (fill in your own descriptive word) readers Newsweek is making no attempt to act like a grown-up magazine for serious-minded readers.  I wish they would have just sent out a notice to all subscribers with an alert stating the magazine was about to dumb down their coverage of the world, and low-brow their writing.

I started subscribing to Newsweek during the 1980 election and found it to be a worthwhile, and informative read.  To pick up the 64-page latest edition and reflect on what it once was is really quite sad.

I can cuss up a storm if my thumb lands under a swing of a  hammer, but I do not toss curse words about as a daily routine.  I certainly do not want cruse words to be thrown into news stories in the fashion Newsweek allowed.  In that way I think most Americans line up in mutual agreement.

Sadly for more revenue–or attempts at being ‘edgy’ and hoping for more ad dollars–Newsweek is poking journalistic standards in the eye.

I hope this nation pokes back and rejects this style of publishing news.

  1. January 15, 2012 10:15 AM


    Sidney Harman purchased Newsweek from the Washington Post Company. Harman died some months ago.

    BTW, thanks for the story about your dad.

  2. Craig permalink
    January 15, 2012 9:56 AM

    This appears to be why Newsweek has lost readership. The publication leans left, can’t say anything good about the party without embellishing the truth and turns instead to Kim Kardashian fluff pieces in a ho-hum boring dissertation about nothing important.

    What has Newsweek turned into? A reality magazine? Newsweek is not the magazine I once scanned from time to time. Wasn’t it sold to Time for a dollar? I don’t remember.

    Dab-nab-it-all anyway, Newsweek can’t afford to buy a quality writer or mind the store any better than this?. “Why is dumbing down a good thing in our society?” I agree with dekeriver.

    We have grade school kids in Sturgeon Bay speaking to each other using the ‘F’ word and ‘N’ word.


  3. Craig skip Weis permalink
    January 15, 2012 9:38 AM

    I turn to what is written in my dad’s 1933 ‘Blue Jacket Manual’ of the United States Navy’s basic training of recruits.

    To paraphrase; ‘those recruits who swear and shortcut to blue language have either no fetching up or are too stupid to to apply acceptable English to everyday communications.This will not be tolerated within the ranks.’

    As my father who came up through the ranks as an enlisted man to an officer status [known as a ‘Mustang’…one who gains officer status without first graduating from Annapolis] canceled leave just once on the light cruiser he commanded during the war because of the crew’s instance on using foul language. Just once, and swearing was no longer a problem.

    I have never heard my father use the ‘F’ word. He died at age 83.


  4. January 14, 2012 8:27 PM

    Come on!

    This blog is not a national publication. This is not something that has been around for decades with deep journalistic roots. You can not tell me that higher rules of good taste do not and should not apply to publications such as Time, Newsweek, or the NYT.

    I am not moralistic, but nearing 50 I think I have a pretty good sense of what sound journalism looks like.

    Why is dumbing down a good thing in our society?

    Would Walter Cronkite have written copy with that word? Thomas DeFrank?

    Is being moralistic the issue, or what constitutes good journalism?

    I did work in broadcast journalism and NEVER would have thought to say something like this.

    Also the rules of deceny in broadcasting apply.

  5. amigay permalink
    January 14, 2012 7:30 PM

    Geez you are such a moralistic asshole. It’s ok for you to use the term ‘pissed off’ when describing the passions of the electorate but I can’t say the word ‘f***’ to make a point?

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