Newsweek formed me (sort of)

By Razib Khan | October 19, 2012 1:11 am

You know that Newsweek is ending its print edition. This was long in the coming. What I find interesting is that apparently its circulation peaked in 1991, at 3.3 million. It declined to 3.1 million in 2007, and literally cratered over the past 5 years to 1.5 million! Thinking back to my own past I remember my interest in Newsweek‘s cartoons, as well as the in-class discussion triggered by the latest issue of Time. There was a time when these were relevant publications. But that ended in 1995, with the rise of the internet. For years the weeklies still maintained the illusion of relevance, but I think they were living on borrowed time. People went through the motions because they always had. After all, the cover of Time was important, everyone knew it. Until no one did. The collapse in circulation is just a reflection of the fact that this emperor had long ago shed its clothes.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized
  • RedZenGenoist

    The little Khans will be formed by bloggers in stead; for all their flaws, at least unlikely to rise to their positions by capital investment, advertising clout, and 关系. I know which type of media influences I would want forming my kids.

    Good ships though the Newsweeks may be, I pray only that they sink faster and deeper.

  • jb

    I grew up with Time; we read it every week. Recently my family did a thorough cleaning of the house we grew up in, and found a number of issues of Time from the 197o’s. They were amazingly dense compared with the current version, with long, detailed articles on the hot topics of the day, plus numerous short reports on all sorts of current and foreign affairs. Nothing really like it today.

  • Superfast Jellyfish

    #2 – Did 1970’s Time bear any resemblance to the current Economist?

  • http://www.exoticjewishhistory.com Moshe Rudner

    “Thinking back to my own past I remember my interest in Newsweek‘s cartoons, as well as the in-class discussion triggered by the latest issue of Time.”

    Yep.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TT81o4hL4c

  • albert magnus

    How are things different with Discover Magazine? Is science journalism cheaper or a monthly magazine more feasible? Do you interact with the people creating the actual physical manifestation of Discover?

  • Andrew Lancaster

    I grew up reading the Economist, and I notice it is easier and easier to find in many countries where it was once un-common. Of course it is also now increasingly read on line, but my point is that I think Time and Newsweek have specific issues also to do with the style of publication they are. The Economist presents arguments and counter arguments, and that seems to be a style more suited to what is needed today (something like good blogs): news is no longer hard to find, but hard to process. We are all far more conscious now of the way that different news sources spin things.

  • April Brown

    There are thousands and thousands of people around the world who learned English from Newsweek – they sent a free subscription to every single Peace Corps Volunteer, and I (and many of my colleagues) used Newsweek for our English language classes. I found it terribly useful, since we didn’t have a lot of teaching materials, and certainly nothing so relevant to current events written in good English besides Newsweek. I also really appreciated the cartoons – I could tell my students until I was blue in the face that Americans, via their freedom of speech laws, are allowed to make fun of their leaders, but it didn’t really hit home until they saw the political cartoons in Newsweek mocking Bush Jr. (They were all , “GASP YOU CAN’T SAY THAT ABOUT THE PRESIDENT BECAUSE HE’S THE PRESIDENT AND HE’S IN CHARGE AND YOU JUST CAN’T DO THAT BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO RESPECT HIM BECAUSE HE’S THE PRESIDENT!!!~”. And I was all, “Watch me. And also, watch Newsweek. Yeah – nobody’s censoring them. How about that?”)

  • Chris_T_T

    Although in the long term print media is doomed (as younger generations used to getting most of their written information digitally replace older generations which are not), Newsweek, TIME, and newspapers in general are suffering from a different problem: the internet has allowed access to all such sources simultaneously. Prior to the internet each could fill their own regional or national market niche, but they also essentially duplicated each other in content.

    The internet has eliminated those niches and as a result the market is way over-saturated. Only a few offer sufficiently unique material and have the reputation to survive as a brand (The Economist, the WSJ, maybe the NYT, and a few others). In a couple of decades we’ll only have a few surviving brands.

    Still, I find the end of Newsweek’s print circulation (and almost certain total demise) a little sad.

    5 – Science magazines don’t suffer from market saturation anywhere near the levels of the news media. Discover will probably survive, but tablets and smart phones are making printed magazines redundant (seriously, why collect stacks of magazines when an entire Barnes and Noble magazine selection can fit on a device only slightly bigger than one?). Scientific American is probably doomed for abandoning the dense content it was originally known for and attempting to become too much like Discover and Pop. Sci..

  • jb

    #3 — Hmm…, now that you mention it, sorta. I’m not all that familiar with The Economist, but I’ve read occasional issues, and I’m looking at its web site now. I would say that 70’s Time was somewhat less ambitious than the current Economist, with fewer pages and articles, and it certainly lacked the pervasive big business focus. And the TOC was pretty useless. But most of the articles are unsigned reporting on a wide range of topics, which makes 70’s Time much more like the Economist than, say, The Atlantic, which has a smaller number of longer, signed articles. So yes.

  • John Emerson

    Almost all print media are in serious trouble.

    A lot of them are pretty dispensable. I haven’t wanted to read Newsweek in years, maybe decades, though occasionally I would read an article someone showed me or which I happened upon.

    There are media, though, which produce knowledge — notably the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I don’t like the political slant of either, and even their good work can be seriously flawed, but both of them do very high quality journalism which is not replaceable.

    Most though not all internet media are still parasitic on print media; to my knowledge there’s no internet news source which comes close to matching the density and scope of the Times or the WSJ.

    I’m wondering whether we’re entering an age when all important information is held in-house by those who funded it, and shared with a select few, and where the information available to the general public is sketchy and unreliable. The Pentagon, and the banks and state banks, and the large corporations, and various government organizations generate their own information, which they don’t share if they don’t want to.

    I read recently that Walmart controls such a large share of the market, and their internal accounting and analysis are so good, that they understand the economy better than the economists for the Federal Reserve or other government agencies, or university economists.

  • Pincher Martin

    Mr Emerson,

    “I read recently that Walmart controls such a large share of the market, and their internal accounting and analysis are so good, that they understand the economy better than the economists for the Federal Reserve or other government agencies, or university economists.”

    Do you remember the source for this claim?

    I have no problem believing Walmart has a better grasp of the economy than most, if not all, university economists, but I would like to read the argument claiming the company has a better grasp of economic fundamentals than the Federal Reserve.

  • Anthony

    The Economist does what John Emerson describes as “producing knowledge”. I started reading it in the mid-80s in college, and have subscribed most of the time since then. It’s circulation is up tenfold since 1982. I’d assume this is because it hasn’t tried to expand its readership by dumbing down its content or trying to hide its editorial voice.

  • http://lyingeyes.blogspot.com ziel

    but I would like to read the argument claiming the company has a better grasp of economic fundamentals than the Federal Reserve.

    Me too, not because I find the claim unbelievable, but because it is all too believable.

  • Sandgroper

    “I’m wondering whether we’re entering an age when all important information is held in-house by those who funded it, and shared with a select few, and where the information available to the general public is sketchy and unreliable.”

    Yes. Entered.

  • John Emerson

    “The company at this point isn’t just a key purveyor of lower labor standards and a globalized and concentrated supply chain, it is a key tell for policymakers. Walmart data was used by the Federal Reserve’s FOMC to understand labor markets, inequality, health care costs, supply chains, and inflation. ”

    Link

  • dave chamberlin

    I was depressed by the decline of multiple print mediums, my local daily newspapers, the weekly news magazines like Newsweek, then old ignorant fool that I am I found the internet. I was lost and now I am found, and it ain’t in old time religion, it’s in new time information technology. Piss on Newsweek, and the N.E.W.S. in general. News is supposed to be an abbreviation for all the important information collected from the North East West and South. Now the mainstream N.E.W.S. is some evolved ratings blob better abbreviated by Nonsense Everybody Wants Sickness. But now we have so many fine minds never selling out, never comprimising truth for what sells right smack dab here on the internet. Yep, I ain’t depressed no more.

  • omar

    When i was a teen an uncle in Lahore had TIME capsules for the 1950s and 1960s (I wonder if they still publish them? they were paperback books summarizing the whole year through the pages of TIME). I used to read both TIME and Newsweek standing at the local bookshop (and Far Eastern Economic Review and for a while, a magazine called Asiaweek). In fact i read entire books standing at the “Variety bookshop” in Lahore (not in one go), long before Barnes and Noble permitted people to sit around and read in their stores. Now I hardly read any magazines at all. Its either books or the internet (and more internet than books). Times have changed. Sad to see it go though. Another thing we can tell our children with the prefix “once upon a time”..
    My grandfather had an old collection of imperialist boys magazines in his garage from the days of the British empire that always seemed to inspire a weird mixture of sadness and nostalgia in me (I had not read them as a child..the nostalgia was on behalf of my uncles)….grandpa did not read them as a child..he grew up in a Punjabi village in modest circumstances, but he got them for his kids once he passed exams and became a police officer in the meritocratic segment of the British empire. Maybe our grandkids will get similar strange feelings of pity and nostalgia when they see old Newsweek and TIME magazines in some attic.

  • daveinboca

    Time was my Bible since the age of ten, when I formed an unrequited love/hate relationship with Quenn Elizabeth II. I read it religiously from cover to cover. In high school, I excelled in civics [remember Civics, anyone?], and read Newsweek too. Both were packed with information and had no perceptible bias. In the seventies, Time even got into a big thing about Global Cooling. But after Henry Luce died, the mag did slowly glide leftward and Newsweek followed in Time’s wake. Not they are both simply ideological. I do miss the Periscope section of Newsweek.

  • imnobody

    I’m sorry. It was the first magazine I read in English, since it was the only English magazine that was available in my country and its language was understandable to a learner like me. I always bought Newsweek when I got a plane: it was a kind of ritual.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT

RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »