June 29, 2011

I have a lot of affinity for Newsweek. I first started reading it when I was around 12. Slowly I grew from reading one substanceless entertainment article per issue to reading the meatier, real news articles to reading entire issues cover to cover. I started to remember the names of the people who worked there: Fareed Zakaria, Michael Isikoff, Jonathan Alter, George Will, Sally Quinn, Steven Levy. I don’t remember ever really reading the news on the internet, or watching cable news during that time; Newsweek was pretty much my primary news source. In the days and weeks after September 11th, the lead-up to the war in Iraq, the 2004 presidential election… Newsweek was the place I turned to for answers. If not for Newsweek I doubt I would’ve become a news junkie, an armchair politico, someone with Opinions on Things.

Eventually I got smarter and came to recognize the magazine’s many faults, and as I went off to college I stopped being a regular reader. And yet, like Mad Magazine, I still wish it well. I’ll check it out every once in a while at the library, or in bookstores, or in airport newsstands. I even liked the widely-panned 2009 redesign. Over the past two years, it’s been distressing to see this humble print magazine flailing around, just trying to survive in a dying medium during an economic recession, hemorrhaging millions of dollars each year, trying desperately to figure out this “web” thing as it’s sold off by its parent corporation, seeing its staffers flee the sinking ship, being ridiculed by its many critics, before finally grabbing ahold on Tina Brown in a desperate attempt to stay afloat. How did Newsweek get into this mess? Can it ever get out of it? I just want Newsweek to get to a point of fiscal stability, to become profitable, and, if it’s not too much trouble, to become worth reading again.

And then I see garbage like this, and I realize it deserves all the flak it gets, if not more.