Saturday, May 23, 2009

Newsweek Changes its Image, But can it Change the Future of Magazines?

Newsweek is joining a list of other publications that are trying to reinvent themselves as it undergoes a major design and image change that includes a look that is similar to The Economist magazine. Many publications are making similar efforts, whether they will be successful in remaining economically viable is doubtful.

I love print publications. Any time I discuss the subject of the decline of magazines or newspapers, I always feel compelled to throw that in. I'm not exactly sure why I do it. Maybe it is to explain that I don't have an agenda against print publications, but I think it is to point out that I find its demise as sad as anyone else (with the exception of those who make a living from such).

I'm now largely old fashioned, I own a Blackberry, while my most of my friends are "clicking along" with their IPhones and GPhones. Yet my old Blackberry (which I am up grading in a few months) is more than adequate to find all the information I need on what is going on in the news and more opinion columns than I will ever use. Furthermore, the content I find is usually up to the minute. Weekly magazines, like Newsweek, are typically outdated before the ink even dries. I find it very funny that publications like this have a date from a week out on its cover. I know, it isn't saying that it covers what is going to happen (it covers how long it is suppose to be on the stands), but the whole thing seems ridiculous.

The New York Times recently wrote about the changes and noted that "a major change in its identity, with a new design, a much smaller and, it hopes, more affluent readership, and some shifts in content." In my opinion, it will be in this latter area if Newsweek makes a difference.

The Times also reports “There’s a phrase in the culture, ‘we need to take note of,’ ‘we need to weigh in on,’ ” said Newsweek’s editor, Jon Meacham. “That’s going away. If we don’t have something original to say, we won’t. The drill of chasing the week’s news to add a couple of hard-fought new details is not sustainable.”' I like this. because we are so deluged with the exact same headlines and the exact same stories on a daily basis. Something has got to give. "Giving" us a unique perspective, something not being offered by other news publications, would be refreshing. I'm delighted to read about the commitment, but will be more exciting if they can translate that into a reality. Talk is cheap and there is plenty of that online, in print, on TV, etc.

Part of changing its editorial approach should mean a serious look at philosophy. Currently, Newsweek has a reputation of being among the most "radical" among mainstream news publications. Inviting writers from a different perspective certainly couldn't hurt.

It is funny, because as Newsweek visually strives to look like the Economist, it is also trying to be more like it in content. The Economist has long been one of the most current, creative, and serious contributors to original content. I actually think that, in spite of the fact it has struggled like other magazines, that it will remain relevant. I am not so confident about the future of Newsweek.

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on AM 650 (M-F at 11 am) in Houston, Texas and on AOL Radio. Eric Bolling of Fox News and Fox Business says that Price’s Blog “is very influential and moves the blogosphere.” Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com. You can also find Price on Strategy Room at FoxNews.com.

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