End of an Era

End of an Era

It’s sad news to learn today that Newsweek magazine is up for sale. Growing up in a print culture, I admired the qualities of this wonderfully produced news magazine. It’s the bellwether– the end of the large market weekly news magazine, the decline of print journalism and the shift to something new as news and commentary moves toward purely online forms of distribution, as this story in the New York Times points out:

“The move comes as companies have been sloughing off and revamping other mass magazines. TV Guide was sold for $1 to a private equity firm; Businessweek was sold for $5 million in cash to Bloomberg L.P.; and Reader’s Digest was given an editorial overhaul as it slashed circulation.

“The circulations of Time and Newsweek now stand about where they were in 1966, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

“Those magazines had much more stature in those days,” said Edward Kosner, who began at Newsweek in 1963 and was its editor in the late 1970s. “It was really important what was on the cover of Newsweek and what was on the cover of Time because it was what passed for the national press. They helped set the agenda; they helped make reputations.”

“The era of mass is over, in some respect,” said Charles Whitaker, research chairman in magazine journalism at the Northwestern University school of journalism. “The newsweeklies, for so long, have tried to be all things to all people, and that’s just not going to cut it in this highly niche, politically polarized, media-stratified environment that we live in today.”