Wow, how far this once distinguished magazine has fallen. It was my favorite source for finding out what was going on in the world. I would enthusiastically pick up each week’s issue and read it cover-to-cover. The process began subtly, with the display format changing, maybe a year ago or so. I thought, well, not too bad, maybe a few modernized graphic touches would be OK. Then the slide went further with some of my favorite contributors bailing out, most notably Fareed Zakaria and Jonathan Alter. Jon Meacham took over as editor, seemingly doing a good job, but then he left after a short tenure.
Enter Tina Brown as editor. With some fanfare and spin, the look of the magazine changed yet again, this time more drastically, and the contents radically shrunk. With each significant change, one expects to get an explanation. Brown’s article described how they agonized over the changes, but felt they had to do them, mostly for business reasons. It all sounded very sincere.
So what are we left with? One or two-page articles. Maybe two in-depth articles per week of the type that I used to look forward to. A miniature magazine, whose status has shrunk to the point that it’s now merely a companion piece to the Daily Beast website. Tinier. Smaller. Infinitesimal. Sad. My subscription will run out shortly, and will not be renewed.
Of course, I read news online regularly. But the pimping of products there is irritating, and I also just enjoy reading without spending even more time on the computer. Online news also seems to be staffed by interns writing with their thumbs on “smart” phones – misspelled headlines and mistakes all over. Fact-checking and editing seem a quaint memory. Fortunately, my favorite monthly magazine, the Atlantic, is going strong – if that one had foundered, that would have been even worse.
So I went into research mode, and found an answer – The Economist! This seemed counterintuitive, as I am no expert in economics, nor do I read academic economics theory. (The closest I get to that is reading the very enjoyable Freakonomics books) But looking through their material, I realized that their focus is very much what I’m looking for – they have a global perspective, not just one country. They cover many other topics besides economics, including politics, the arts, science, and more. I’ve been enjoying the website, and now have my first print copy, so I get the best of both worlds. Excellent writing all around, plenty of depth, and enough fascinating material to keep me happily engaged for days, unlike the current Newsweak, which can be polished off and discarded in maybe a half-hour.
So though the headline of this article is not literally true, it probably should be. I was delighted to find a solution. Best of all, I revisited some other magazines, and it’s been so much fun doing that. I wonder how long Newsweek will survive after being vivisected.