The future is now! After years of speculation and talk about ‘The Future of Magazines’ it would seem we are living it, and it’s not pleasant. Six months ago word that Newsweek was essentially going to give up chasing the news would have been shocking, now it merely seems par for the course. Says editor Jon Meacham: “The drill of chasing the week’s news to add a couple of hard-fought new details is not sustainable.” And that is just one of a number of changes the weekly has announced it will be making. Per the Times:
Starting in May, articles will be reorganized under four broad, new sections — one each for short takes, columnists, and commentary, long reporting pieces like the cover articles, and culture — each with less compulsion to touch on the week’s biggest events. A new graphic feature on the last page, “The Bluffer’s Guide,” will tell readers how to sound as if they are knowledgeable on a current topic, whether they are or not.
The new Newsweek will also be printed on thicker stock, and place more of an emphasis on photography, aiming itself to a smaller, richer audience. The result being? No way to tell yet but right now it sounds a lot like some strange print version of Life magazine meets the blogosphere.
As the article points out, Newsweek‘s main competitor Time is still making a profit — in fact we recently spoke to someone in the circulation world who speculated Time was outselling Newsweek six to one. One wonders if Newsweek would be struggling so much remain relevant if they had bothered to invest more time in developing a distinct online voice (as opposed to merely sharing content with MSNBC) similar to what one finds at Time or The Atlantic. It does, after all, seem a strange time to be investing more rather than less in the future of print.