Ed Driscoll

That "Crying Reagan" Cover Should Have Been Your First Clue

This just in from Howard Kurtz on Twitter:

Joe Klein on Time’s Endangered Repubs cover: Time stopped being fair & balanced yrs ago, he tells me. It’s about the “voices” of its journos.

And Klein certainly hears some interesting voices these days.

As Sissy Willis adds, “Fair and balanced? Whassat? How about reporting the facts, ma’am, just the facts? Or, if you’re an opinion journal of “voices,” acknowledge it up front rather than continuing the charade that you’re a newsmagazine.”

Whenever the left really grabs the reins of an institution, it typically transforms it into a vehicle to dispense agitprop instead of entertainment or facts. See also: elite universities, Hollywood, and daily newspapers, in addition to what used to be weekly news magazines. Old bottles, now dispensing even older whines.

Brent Bozell’s recent op-ed regarding Newsweek’s woes also applies pretty well to Time magazine. Both morphed from magazines offering news with an establishment liberal bias to leftwing political opinion magazines along the lines of the New Republic and the Nation virtually simultaneously over the last four or five years or so:

At the end of 2007, Newsweek reduced its “base rate” (or circulation guaranteed to advertisers) from 3.1 million to 2.6 million, a 16 percent drop. At the end of 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported that Newsweek, faced with an estimated 21 percent decline in ad pages, could soon drop that circulation number by another 500,000 to 1 million readers. In February, the magazine confirmed the million-issue drop, saying it would drop to a base of 1.9 million in July and 1.5 million readers by January 2010.

“Mass for us is a business that doesn’t work,” Tom Ascheim, Newsweek’s chief executive, told the New York Times. “Wish it did, but it doesn’t. We did it for a long time, successfully, but we can’t anymore.” Now that U.S. News & World Report waved a white flag and said it would only publish monthly, the evidence is much stronger for wondering about the decline and fall of the American “news magazine” – as if Time and Newsweek haven’t already shed that label in everything but name.

Newsweek’s strategy in the midst of all its financial decline is to double and triple the amount of editorializing, cast aside all semblance of “news” in favor of long, liberal essays by self-impressed Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and his international editor Fareed Zakaria. Is that really a business solution, or is it the captains performing violin solos on the deck of the Titanic?

For weekly “news” magazines, think of it as “The New Age Of Extinction”, to borrow a recent headline from one dinosaur opinion magazine…

Update: “In more just-as-timely news, communism doesn’t work and disco sucks.”