Newsweek Cover Lowers Standards, Tina Brown To Blame

I am not on some moralistic kick today, nor do I feel in any way like a curmudgeon.    Instead I am just repeating a long-time gripe I have about the lowest common denominator always making inroads.

I hate when that happens.  My readers should too.

This time the dumbing down happened on the cover of the latest Newsweek magazine which arrived in my mail yesterday.

I come from the old-school notion that an expletive marked out in ‘bleeping’ marks is just not professional anywhere, and certainly does not meet journalistic standards that I expect to see from a weekly newsmagazine.

Newsweek has arrived in my mailbox, regardless of where I lived, since early 1980.   I have stuck with the magazine’s comings-and-goings of management, and editors over the decades.  I never left them as all news cable channels and the internet made for huge changes in how news was obtained.

I always felt I was gaining some information, and certainly an entertainment value with my subscription.

What I do not pay money for however, is to be treated like some 15-year-old who requires juvenile attempts to make me open the cover.

While I am aware that Tina Brown, the new Editor in Chief, is trying to recharge the weekly, I must be candid and say I am not impressed.  She will be, mark my words, the reason Newsweek ceases to be a publication.  It is already verging  on the doorstep of no longer being a serious one.

If dumbing down Newsweek is supposed to endear long-time readers such as myself to her cause she is sadly mistaken.

The money I allow for magazine purchases can be used elsewhere.

Newsweek Gets Grilled

This is not the type of feedback one wishes to hear about the redesign of a national newsmagazine.

The problem with Jon Meacham’s Newsweek, somebody said to me last week, was that he didn’t like the news and he didn’t like the week. Tina Brown’s redesigned Newsweek suffers a similar Meacham-esque avoidance of newsiness and the week. One would think that with the Arab world spinning apart, political insurrection visiting Capitol Hill and the state houses, and the NFL going on sabbatical, the week would be so hot that Brown could stir-fry its ingredients for a sizzling meal.

Instead, Brown puts the queen of cold, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on the cover and fills the corresponding article with hagiography. Also on the cover, she leans on the oldest trick in the magazine playbook—a list—which she runs over the nameplate (“150 Women Who Shake the World”). She continues the women theme inside. Several new big-name columnists appear in the front of the book—Kathleen Parker, Niall Ferguson, Leslie H. Gelb, and Joanne Lipman—but none of them turns a phrase or casts a thought you haven’t heard a million times before. This is a meal that a homeless person would walk away from.

The issue fails not just by my measure or by the homeless guy’s but by Brown’s. In her introductory note, she writes that the new Newsweek will be “about filling the gaps left when a story has seemingly passed, or resetting the agenda, or coming up with an insight or synthesis that connects the crackling, confusing digital dots.” Having read the new issue front-to-back, I can report that the gaps remain, the agenda has not shifted, and the crackling, confusing digital dots are still scattered at random on the floor.


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.