Of course, blaming their layoffs on a lack of advertising revenue is a dual-edged sword for both Time and the New York Times (especially the New York Times). Fareed Zakaria, the erstwhile Obama advisor who contributes to both Time and CNN, the television network owned by Time-Warner, said in December of 2010 that Americans needed to reduce their consumption:
Parker asked Zakaria if he had faith the American people could handle the fiscal discipline he advocated. Zakaria used the platform as an opportunity to attack Americans and refute the notion “the American people are wonderful.” His solution: Less consumption by the American people.
“No, I think the people are the big problem,” Zakaria said. “I mean, Americans — everybody wants to say the American people are so wonderful. You know, I think that when they come to recognize that they have to make sacrifices too that it’s not just wasteful — they need to have — they need to recognize that some of what’s going to happen here is fewer. They have to consume fewer things. They have to accept slightly higher taxes. And in the long run, you will have a much better economy.”
The New York Times survives on advertising from both local and national retailers, and yet frequently runs puritanical environmentally correct articles on the “joys” of higher gas prices, and using less air conditioning and consumer goods — all the way down to using less toilet paper.
And of course, the president that Time and the Gray Lady went all-in-on in 2008 and 2012 concurs — we must consume less:
Well, hey, good news! The American public voted twice for the president these publications openly championed. The economy, influenced by his actions, has slowed dramatically. That economy has forced consumers to consume less. Consuming less means less to manufacture and promote. Which means less advertising, which means less money changing hands with publications. Which means less money for payroll.
Which means less journalists on the payroll.
As the Mencken quote that has continually made the rounds since early 2009 goes, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
But the common people getting it good and hard also has ramifications for those who believed they were insulated from such suffering.
Beyond the open and increasingly partisan politics that Time, Newsweek, and the New York Times espoused in the course of the last decade (yes, I know they were always liberal — except, arguably, for Time during the Jurassic Luce years — but the trend certainly accelerated after 9/11), there’s the quality of their writing. As part of its final print issue, Newsweek looked back on its glory days in the 1960s, and made them sound like a rerun of Mad Men, with loads of boozing and interoffice skirt chasing. But that era of Newsweek put out an infinitely better product than its successor. And even fluffy Time spin-off People isn’t immune to a drop in quality. At Ricochet, Emily Esfahani Smith compares and contrasts the early mid-1970s version of People — both the quality of the writing, and the quality of the celebrities it covered — with its current incarnation, and finds the latter version wanting badly.
Related: “We have met the 1%, and he is us.” Read the whole thing.