Don’t read ’em, don’t need ’em

There once was a time when it was nice to get Time or Newsweek in order to scan the past week’s events, get a somewhat fuller picture of the news, and simply catch up. I’m going back a couple of decades, sprouts, when Time would actually run deeply reported stories, give somebody like Robert Hughes beaucoup column inches to talk about modern art, or offer detailed schematics and diagrams of Three Mile Island to help readers understand how close Pennsylvania came to being renamed the Forbidden Zone.

You can water down your product only so many times before people start wondering why they need another stack of recycling fodder in the garage. And if you think pumping up the amount of punditry and opinion-mongering is the key to your magazine’s survival, you might want to consider giving space to fresh and original thinkers, not party operatives like William Kristol and Karl Rove who divide their time between getting things wrong and lying about the world.  

So when I hear Howie Kurtz keening over the decline of the glossies, I find it have to give a damn. Give me information and give me breadth, or get lost. The “media savvy” bigwigs running those magazines just sound like higher paid, better groomed versions of the hack newspaper editors I used to see, who decided that alienating people who read newspapers was the key to getting more readership. Adio, bozos.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t read ’em, don’t need ’em

  1. Fred Kiesche says:

    I’ve noticed a similar decline in Scientific American, although they would deny it. But look for a set of books called “Amateur Telescope Making” (edited by Ingalls). These are based on SA articles. You won’t find that these days. Same with Martin Gardner’s columns or Douglas Hofstadter’s columns there when he was subbing for Gardner.

    Another magazine that I read (Sky & Telescope) just ran an editorial saying that haven’t dumbed down. As a subscriber since 1967, I beg to differ.

  2. Chucky says:

    Of course Howard Kurtz would cry crocodile tears for the newsweeklies. He works for the Washington Post, which owns Newsweek — and the WashPost is, by its own admission, a mouthpiece for the government.

    Don’t forget that Newsweek puts hard news on the cover for overseas readers and fluff on the cover for US readers.

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