After 12 Covers Of The Pandemic The Economist “Is Free”

I enjoy watching HOW stories are reported as much as WHAT is reported. For instance, I like to see what the first story on the three main networks is each evening. What aspect of COVID-19, for example over the past 8 weeks, led the news. With that in mind it was interesting to see what topic broke the series of front cover images about the pandemic in The Economist this week.

From a newsletter this weekend from the magazine.

The cover this week deserves a drumroll. After 12 consecutive issues when the pandemic or its direct consequences have muscled themselves onto the front, we have broken free. We are calling for a global effort to tackle climate change. Covid-19 has created a unique chance to steer the economy away from carbon. The world should seize the moment.

When you face something as all-encompassing as a pandemic, it is hard to change the subject. The risk is of seeming tasteless or beside the point—like talking about politics when there has been a death in the family. The task for the cover was to make our shift feel natural.

That phrase, “Seize the moment”, which we lit upon before our cover designer put pencil to paper, was a big help. It pivots on the pandemic at the same time as being a call to action. It was the inspiration for the sketches we pored over during our Monday-afternoon cover hangout.


The Irony Of ‘The Lobster Shift’

This post is really for me, and my (at times) quirky interests.

While reading an article today about the declining readership of newsmagazines the words at the top of the column struck me.

“The Lobster Shift”

In 2008 I first heard this term used on television, but never have seen it in print until this morning.  The term means a work shift (as on a newspaper) that covers the late evening and early morning hours.  The term goes back at least as far at the late 1890’s.

The reason I mention this at all–and I certainly can understand why no one really cares–is the fact the old-fashioned feel for newspapers and newsmagazines is passing given the digital age in which we live.

Yet a story that covered declining readership in a print publication uses an old newspaper term for the title of the column.

Little things like this make me smile.

Newsweek Needs To End Publication–Asparagus Dangle Latest Reason For Ending Charade


It should be noted in further reading today I ran across this nugget.  In the first half of 2012 Newsweek’s newsstand sales fell by 9.7 percent


You know things are bad when I–a huge fan of magazines and increased readership–call for the end of a publication.  To make matters even more serious, the magazine I am hoping to see end is my once beloved Newsweek

In my late teenage years I had a subscription to Newsweek, and kept reading it over the decades.  I can not describe how much pleasure the magazine provided back in the day when it had real news and analysis on the events of the week.  I am one of those guys who recall–with deep fondness–when Thomas DeFrank was Newsweek’s senior White House correspondent.  He served in that capacity for a quarter century.   His institutional memory makes him a most treasured reporter.

I wonder what DeFrank would think of the latest cover of the once respected newsmagazine.

I have written many times about my dismay with the shock-and-awe style that Tina Brown brings to this magazine.  What is most troubling is that instead of trying to make the magazine meaningful and dynamic, a vehicle for insightful analysis, along with probing big issues she has turned to the lowest common denominator. 

While it is true that many magazines are suffering in the era of the internet, it is also a fact that solid and respected weeklies and monthlies still thrive.  The Economist and The Atlantic are two that bounce to mind.  Instead of sinking with the rot that makes up many publications, why not seek to fly with the best that can be printed?

Tine Brown has decided to deliver schlock for Newsweek material.  This week some even would say food porn.

If the best one can do is create a cover so that it receives notice for being bad–and then hoping that attention makes for sales and chatter—-well–it is then time to shut down the presses.

Thomas DeFrank left the magazine years ago.  I removed my name from the subscriber list in the last year.  Many others have followed.  Newsweek is now something to be laughed at rather than read.  That makes me very sad, given my many years of happiness with the magazine.

It is time for Tina Brown to shut the lights off, and then have the decency to show a little shame for what she allowed to happen to a once mighty publication that commanded a national readership.

Newsweek On-Line To Shut Down

Not good. 

There apparently isn’t room for two sites at the Newsweek Daily Beast Company. The new joint venture will kill off, even though its audience is larger than the Beast’s., the offshoot of a 77-year-old brand, has 3.8 million monthly unique visitors to the two-year-old Beast’s 1.5 million, according to
The Beast is the survivor, said Stephen Colvin, the company’s new CEO, “Because the Daily Beast is a very credible and successful news and opinion Web site. And with great vitality and distinct voice.”

The site will publish content, and traffic will be directed there.

Newsweek Starts Anew

I applaud the move by Newsweek to create a fresh look, and head in a new direction.  I look forward to future weekly editions in my mail.  In an era where there is plenty of news (where, what, when, why,and how) I like the ‘out-of-the-box’ style of deeper reporting, and insight that Newsweek has committed itself to.

Counterintuitively, perhaps, the weekly cycle is a promising one in a world running at a digital pace. The Internet does a good job of playing the role long filled by newspapers, delivering headlines, opinions and instant analysis. Many newspapers have long been forced into a traditional newsmagazine model, with longer-form reporting and more big-picture thinking, but they still have to do it every day, and there is only so much wisdom one can summon in a few hours. As we see it, NEWSWEEK’s role is to bring you as intellectually satisfying and as visually rich an experience as the great monthlies of old did, whether it was Harold Hayes’s Esquire or Willie Morris’s Harper’s, but on a weekly basis.

Newsweek Getting New Look, Emphasis

I hope this does not sound like one of my (many) posts about how I hate to see  longstanding publications change due to the economy, or the altered audience demographics in the country due to technology.  But as a reader and subscriber to Newsweek since 1980 I do have thoughts about this news.

Newsweek, like other magazines, is trying to find how to better fit into the current events niche in the lives of readers.  So there is about to be a change in looks, and a move away from the weekly obligatory coverage  of the latest headlines.  I am fine with such a change to Newsweek as there are so many avenues to getting the news.  What I much more prefer from my magazines is to have analysis concerning the issues of the day, which is what I actually crave more than the mere facts of a story, since those are  obtained from other sources.

At a time when CNN, MSNBC, NPR  informs me on ‘who, what, where, when’ of a story I use my magazines to better tell me the ‘why’ of an event or policy.  There are changes that have taken place in the readership needs of the public, and not addressing them means lower profits, and then a demise of the publication.  U.S. News and World Report is such an example. 

I do not say this often about changes to printed material I read and love, but I am looking forward to the future changes of Newsweek.  The magazine has already been moving in the direction it intends to take at full speed, and it works. 

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.”

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.

“Mass for us is a business that doesn’t work,” said Tom Ascheim, Newsweek’s chief executive. “Wish it did, but it doesn’t. We did it for a long time, successfully, but we can’t anymore.”

Thirteen months ago, Newsweek lowered its rate base, the circulation promised to advertisers, to 2.6 million from 3.1 million, and Mr. Ascheim said that would drop to 1.9 million in July, and to 1.5 million next January.

He says the magazine has a core of 1.2 million subscribers who are its best-educated, most avid consumers of news, and who have higher incomes than the average reader.

“We would like to build our business around these people and grow that group slightly,” he said. “These are our best customers. They are our best renewers, and they pay the most.”

Editorially, Newsweek’s plan calls for moving in the direction it was already headed — toward not just analysis and commentary, but an opinionated, prescriptive or offbeat take on events.

The current cover article argues that America’s involvement in Afghanistan parallels the Vietnam War, and a companion piece offers a plan for handling that country. Newsweek also plans to lean even more heavily on the appeal of big-name writers  like Christopher Hitchens, Fareed Zakaria, and George Will.

Starting in May, articles will be reorganized under four broad, new sections — one each for short takes, columnists and commentary, long reporting pieces like the cover articles, and culture — each with less compulsion to touch on the week’s biggest events. A new graphic feature on the last page, “The Bluffer’s Guide,” will tell readers how to sound as if they are knowledgeable on a current topic, whether they are or not.

The magazine will replace its thin paper with heavier stock that is more appealing to advertisers and readers. It will also put more emphasis on photography. Pages of a mock issue that Mr. Meacham displayed in his office on West 57th Street in Manhattan show a cleaner, less cluttered layout that has more open space and fewer pages that seem an uninterrupted sea of words.

Christopher Buckley Should Not Have Needed To Resign From National Review

Political and news magazines are best when they showcase diverse thoughts, and creative perspectives on the the issues of the day.  Otherwise any publication can become dull and complacent.

When conservative Christopher Buckley, son of famed William Buckley, endorsed Barack Obama it made news.  (It was a remarkable column, and worth your time to read.) But when Buckley resigned from National Review, and it was accepted by the management of the magazine, I was shocked.  To be objective here, Bill Buckley was a favorite of mine, and so perhaps my thoughts might be considered a bit clouded.  But I know on the pure facts of the matter I am crystal clear. 

When a robust magazine like National Review can no longer be a part of what Ronald Reagan called the ‘big tent’ of the Republican Party, then perhaps it is not Christopher Buckley that should resign.  Perhaps the top heads who accepted the resignation should exit stage left….or is it stage right?

It is when thoughtful and spirited debate crosses over that is considered ‘the line’ that ‘forward thinking’ takes place, and new options for creating solutions to old problems come about.  Magazines like National Review are often read by liberals such as myself as a way to have stimulating ideas from a source that is not our day-to-day reads.  It is with pithy writing and challenging thoughts, even though we may disagree, that we return.

But I think many will find it harder to do so when a diverse view, such as Buckley exhibited, is treated so unfairly.

Christopher Buckley should not have felt like he had to resign.   And the resignation should not have been accepted.

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Why Is Newsweek Magazine Thin This Week?

The postal person delivered the mail this afternoon, and since I was outside brought the load directly to me.  I was happy to see that among everything else the latest edition of Newsweek had arrived.  As I glanced at it I thought it seemed somehow smaller, with fewer pages than usual.  How could that be I thought as I glanced at the top of the magazine and noticed in dark letters “Summer Double Issue”?   A double issue that is so thin!  It was then I noticed splashed on the cover “What Bush Got Right” by Fareed Zakaria.  Now I know why the magazine is so thin!

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