I swing both ways. I subscribe to both remaining weekly news magazines, TIME and Newsweek. And I'm an avid consumer of online news.
Well, let's make me a tripartite swinger, because I also read two newspapers every day, the Salem Statesman Journal and the Portland Oregonian. I find this to be a balanced news diet, the weeklies being an important part of my nutrition.
Now Newsweek is up for sale. It, along with TIME, may not survive. Call me old-fashioned (I still read books made of paper), but I find this highly disturbing.
Newsweek necessarily has transformed itself from a communicator of what's happening to an interpreter and analyzer of current events. By the time the magazine comes in the mail I already know what the week's main news has been.
But Newsweek's stable of writers (Fareed Zakaria, especially) do a great job of looking at things more broadly than most other news sources do. They're into understanding, not just mere facts.
Today's trend is for people to cull through blogs, cable news, web sites, and such for their own tailored news mix. Conservatives have their sources; progressives have theirs; and never the twain shall meet.
Newsweek has been a balance to this yin-yang dichotomizing.
Sure, I could find alternative points of view to those I favor on the web. But I don't search them out. When I page through Newsweek, though, I'm much more inclined to read a column by George Will, say, which I'd likely skip if I saw it elsewhere.
The New York Times story about Newsweek's potential demise explains why we need this magazine:
“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.”
...Slowly, though, cable news programs grew in number and popularity, and the instant news of the Internet rendered weekly summaries stale almost by definition. And the notion of a cultural common ground that Americans could all share was changing.
...Both Time and Newsweek were aggressively redesigned. Time, in 2007, changed its publication date from Monday to Friday and added more analysis. Newsweek, in 2009, more or less ceased original reporting about the week’s events, and instead ran essays from columnists like Fareed Zakaria and opinionated analyses.
Mr. Whitaker of Northwestern said that editorially, the magazines’ reinventions had not worked well. “I don’t think Time and Newsweek, in this transformation, had enough of a distinct voice to capture the fancy of anyone in this incredibly polarized political environment,” he said.
Well, they captured my fancy. I'm over-dosed on polarization.
Newsweek and TIME are some of the last bastions of thoughtful, balanced, mainstream current affairs reporting and analysis. If we lose them, it'll be sad.
Nobody talks about, or cares, who is on the home page of the Huffington Post or The Drudge Report at any passing moment. But getting on the cover of the national news magazines still counts for something. As do the articles behind the cover.