November 22, 2012

"There’s something about the way a magazine looks and feels when it doesn’t have advertising that is unbelievably disappointing..."

"... both as an editor and as a writer. Pages are not meant to be adjacent to one another. They need the advertising to give it body and fullness. There was always that sense of Newsweek being not the full-bodied thing that it ought to be."

Said Tina Brown, in whose hands Newsweek died, prompting Michael Kinsley to say, "It seemed wan." And then Tina says, "Yes, it always seemed wan, and that affects the way you read it. That was one of the big problems."

Makes Newsweek sound like a person... like an unsatisfying husband to whom poor Tina found herself married.

Much more at the link, by the way, including Kinsley's question whether it was really true that Newsweek was losing $42 million a year, and Tina's answer: "I’m not supposed to reveal the exact numbers. But I will tell you it cost $42 million just to print Newsweek.... Before you’ve even engaged one writer, or one copy editor, or one picture editor. Forty-two million dollars." And: "[A]ll the boundaries of print just feel so incredibly old-fashioned now—the need to do things in a certain shape, in a certain mix, by a certain time of the day in the week. All of that just seems so incredibly burdensome now." And:
In ten years, will we still have newspapers on paper?

“No” is the short answer, unless printed at home via the web.


mamawolf said...

Perhaps the demise of Newsweek as a magazine was due more to its lack of content than any other consideration. I have never picked up a magazine read it, and then complained that it lacked advertizing. In fact, I could do with less advertizing and would enjoy better writing. Writing that bears some semblance to reality. It is Tina Brown who is our of step, not the readers.

AllenS said...

I worked as a pressman for a printing company. The press runs are way, way down from what they were in the 1990s. There'll still be printing on paper, but how much is anybodys guess.

Pre-press, pressroom, bindery and then shipping is very costly. In the pressroom alone, paper, ink, chemical solutions to add to the water to clean the printing cylinders, printing plates, cylinder blankets, and everything else costs money. Lots of it.

Where I used to work, they no longer offer a retirement package. They do chip in on the 401k.

KCFleming said...

She is a bright and compelling person.

She's right about the lack of ad content. It makes a magazine look unpopular and you question it's survival. Makes you not want to touch it.

She seems to be blaming Newsweek's lack of ads on the desire for Internet and not print space.

There may be some truth in that, but a far larger problem was that Newsweek simply wasn't being read, and advertisers knew it.

The only question I wanted to read was not asked:
Why did people quit reading Newsweek?

CWJ said...

I like AA's disappointing husband observation. Once something finally fails the people central to that failure adopt the role of observer, and are no longer participants. Yep, failure truly is an orphan.

I wonder how Smithsonian magazine is doing. Content and advertising pages never mixed and I liked it that way. It was my favorite periodical. I eventually dropped it as PC content increased while editorial quality declined. Ms. Brown might consider that possibility for her own case.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I was at the doctor's office last Saturday. In the waiting room was the issue of Newsweek with the headline "The Obama Conquest."

I had braced myself for an issue chock-full of Obama-love.

Instead, I was surprised and dismayed to find that the issue was chock-full of hatred for Romney and the Republicans, in general.

It struck me as odd that nearly all of the advertising was aimed at women.

Chris Hall said...

My favorite motorcycle magazine (and I subscribe to 5) is Motorcycle Consumer News, which has no advertisements. Until a few years ago it was entirely in B&W.

LoafingOaf said...

I could do with less advertizing and would enjoy better writing

I like ads in magazines! They're a nice part of flipping through a magazine. (And some magazine ads can be looked at as works of art.)

I don't like ads on the internet, where they are designed to be obnoxious and interfering and slow you down. Which is why I use AdBlock on Chrome. :)

I think it'll take a bit longer than 10 years for newspapers on print to go extinct. There'll be more and more papers reducing the number of days they come out in print, and there'll probably be a lot of other changes, but there's still a lot of people who aren't on the internet, and some who have the internet but barely use it, and a lot of people who prefer print.

LoafingOaf said...

Why did people quit reading Newsweek?

In my case, because The Economist is so much better. (Though I don't get that anymore because I tightened up my budget.)

Anonymous said...

I read "The New Criterion" and "First Things", both of which segregate their advertising either at the very front or the very back of the magazine. So the articles can be read straight through, without interruption. I'm fine with that, personally.

Ah, Tina Brown - I remember when she was the Goldie Hawn of "Punch" magazine, back in the Seventies.

edutcher said...

What killed Newsweek is what's killing the Establishment Media generally, airheads like Tina and hard Lefties like Kinsley, mostly guys like Kinsley, but you do get people like Pinch, who are Tina Kinsleys.

Malta1565 said...

"Pages are not meant to be adjacent to one another. They need the advertising to give it body and fullness. There was always that sense of Newsweek being not the full-bodied thing that it ought to be."

Having minimal advertising and pages next to each other works for The Economist. As other posts mentioned, it's the content of Newsweek that killed it. How many Left wings magazines can the market support?

ricpic said...

That's a good point Anne B. makes about "The New Criterion" and "First Things." "The New Criterion" just looks more substantial than "Newsweek" or "Time." Some of that may be the stock its printed on, heavier, firmer and matte not shiny. In other words more booklike. Also "The New Criterion" is simply physically thicker with real substance, articles, than the pathetically thin substance starved "Newsweek" and "Time." The more I think about it I think it's the bookiness of "The New Criterion" (not as familiar with "First Things") which makes the segregation of the advertising appropriate.

Unknown said...

It seemed wan.
Pages adjacent to each other.
Tina knows this is a magazine right?

bgates said...

I don't get that anymore because I tightened up my budget

Another satisfied victim of the Obama economy.

Anonymous said...

In ten years? That long?

Give it at most five, probably less than two.

USA Today was provided free in the hotel we stayed. No one, not one guest, took them.

Anonymous said...

What one needs is Drudge to get to the wire services, then to the Brit newspapers and favored bloggers to see analyses. I've watched more impartial news from the Chinese Central TV than from CNN when I stayed in Beijing a few years ago.

Professors Reynolds, Althouse, Levine, and more are more capable and reliable to analyse the laws than the "journolists" who don't know what the heck they are writing about. Take any subjects you are interested in at any time, then go to read the real experts' take. Go to NASA to read about Curiosity's Mars Landing...

Take out the news gatekeepers, ignore the ideology hustlers. We need NYT and WaPo as much as the Russians need Pravda and the Chinese need the People's Daily.

Strelnikov said...

In the future, when someone wants to burn books, they'll have to print them first.

carrie said...

I subscribed to Newsweek for over 35 years but just couldn't take its extreme liberal bias anymore and cancelled my suscription in 2008 after the cover of Palen dressed as wonder woman (or whatever she was). I think that liberal bias is killing news magazines and news paper more than anything else.

Peter said...

Print magazines are in decline, but what killed Newsweek was surely its insipid contents.

A couple of magazines that survive with little advertising: