Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Now Maybe Every Mag Will Stop Trying To Be 'The Economist'

Last night TV person Jon Stewart asked Newsweek editor John Meacham, "Who is making money in the magazine business who does what you do? Who is a successful model?" And you can guess what Meacham said: "The Economist." Okay so, this is something we have heard for years now, from everyone, and it became a huge joke, and guess what? Maybe there's only room for one The Economist! Maybe your weirdly redesigned, money-losing magazine ($500,000 a week!) isn't The Economist! Which, by the way, despite its charms, isn't the only kind of magazine in the world! And which, you know, other magazines are not really being, either in print or online. They go too big.

On top is the news top of the The Economist web site; on the bottom is the hectic, insane, keyword-loaded Newsweek website.


Pakistan! Tiger Woods! Chaos!

A newsweekly was always charged with being all things to all people. (Healthcare! Unemployment!) I'm not sure that's a game I'd want to get into-even if I had pageviews the size of the population of Canada. Because how do you get that? The Gawker Media niche websites have total web traffic more than three times as big as Newsweek's attempt to be everything to everyone.

23 Comments / Post A Comment

sailor (#396)

That's because Gawker Media consistently deals with such substantive issues and offers impeccable reporting.

Bittersweet (#765)

But do they have awesome captions?

irishbreakfast (#4,123)

My local public school distributes Newsweek (supplied free by the corp.) to the kiddies to keep them up with 'current events.' I can only imagine the replies to "What's Up In The World This Week?" after they get a load of "Pakistan! Tiger Woods! Chaos!". Because, of course, when students are handed a magazine and told to read it they go directly to the website, where they know soundbites live. And that's why the Economist, which is also distributed free to University Econ classes, is generally received with little enthusiasm by the students. They know the website is just as chewy as the print version, and that they're going to have to think.

Nerds beat jocks-trying-to-sell-watered-down-nerdism-to-jocks.

Ha, that screenshot is like a game of "when did you realize Newsweek was not for you?".

For me, it was the use of "Newsweekopedia," which is just terribly, terribly sad.

deepomega (#1,720)

Sorry, that's cut off. It's actually "Jewsweekopedia", which is Newsweek's bi-monthly Jewish circular.

hugesunglasses (#2,696)

In these tough economic times, less folks are able to afford dental work thus resulting in dentists having to reduce overhead costs by cancelling their subscriptions to Newsweek and Highlights. Miss u Goofus and Gallant.

Crantastical (#4,127)

The Economist also (or used to when I worked at a subsidiary in DC back in '01) offers generous profit sharing on top of a base salary. They pay the business side well but the reporters didn't make crap.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

OK, isn't there a *bigger* bigger picture, as in the point of The Economist is that so-called open markets underwrite so-called enlightened curiosity about the world.

Whereas the point of Newsweek/Life/Time is/was We! Won! The! Cold! War!, or, the so-called military-agri-infotainment industrial complex underwrites a non-curious, book-of-the-month club take-what-we-give-you outlook on the world.

There's plenty of room for other Economist type magazines — they just have to offer a viable alternative view of how to get by in the world.


I think the decisive question is not what happens to Newsweek (who cares?) or Snyder (sorry, he'll be fine) but what happens to Isikoff and Hosenball. I don't think they can be Slate-ified, and I'd hate to see them end up Politicoids.

There are, it seems, a very finite number of people who want to keep hustling and reporting after a certain age–after the age when they have been around the block enough to know when they are getting snowed and when to keep digging. I'd trade a dozen ex-reporter-pundits-columnists for a couple real late-career reporters, even with their flaws.

mrschem (#1,757)

Here, here.

Ronit (#1,557)

Is The New Yorker making money?

doubled277 (#2,783)

I think it is not? But the day the New Yorker falls is the day that the magazine industry is officially dead and buried, no?

PinkPundit (#155)

The Economist is so overrated. Rewrites of the week's news with heavy dose of Oxbridge attitude. Makes all the Americans swoon.

James Fallows did a nice hit on the mag – which calls itself a newspaper – almost 20 years ago. Still worth reading:

alison (#14)

Thanks – that was a pretty breathtaking takedown. James Fallows is great on China and airport security issues. He's just weighed in on Newsweek, but more kindly than in your link:

Abe Sauer (#148)

The first step for Newsweek on the way to being the economist is no bylines. Think THAT will go over well with Newsweek writers?

LondonLee (#922)

If The Economist is so clever and sophisticated how come their covers are so bloody awful.

mrschem (#1,757)

Aw, I loved this week's cover and the make money because idiots like me pay six eggrolls for it at the newsagents.

mrschem (#1,757)


Matt (#26)

I wish more people would realize the subtle charms of the Terrorizer model.

joeclark (#651)

Your illustration fails to make your point. If anything, the Newsweek example has the advantage of actually resembling "Web design."

Now, why is the Economist making so much money? It isn't just the articles: Spiekermann's redesign circa 2003 immediately increased subscriptions because people could finally read the damned thing. (A single tracking setting in Quark solved a third of the problem.)

BadUncle (#153)

The Economist is fine. But it's no Sunset Magazine.

doubled277 (#2,783)

I wonder this myself

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