Newsweek Has Fallen Down and Can't Get Up
The institutional forces behind the demise of a magazine.
Another alternative—one that I can't imagine the proud Post Co. (which publishes Slate and pays my salary) taking—would be to liquidate Newsweek over time by cheapening the product and collecting money from subscribers who are too stupid to realize it. That's what Mortimer Zuckerman has been doing with U.S. News & World Report for the last decade, extracting whatever value he can by amputating the magazine's fingers, then its toes, then its hands, ears, feet, legs, and arms until it's become a bare-bones monthly instead of a weekly.
We all die. The magazine graveyards teem with publications that stopped satisfying enough readers and advertisers. It will be a sad day for me when Newsweek joins them, because as a teenager in the 1960s, I depended on it for a full-throated account of a world beyond my dismal Midwestern home. But cheer up, readers! There isn't a minute that something new and wonderful isn't being born.
When will Slate die? I give it until 2032, when it will be replaced with a neural feed from Christopher Beam's brainstem. Send your predictions to email@example.com or accept a slightly damp brainstem feed from my Twitter account. (E-mail may be quoted by name in Slate's readers' forums; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)
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