God and War: Newsweek’s Meacham “favorite things” and other words of wisdom

May 1, 2007

This week’s cover of Newsweek happens to reflect editor Jon Meacham’s “two favorite topics”: God and War. Meacham shared his views about his favorite topics and many others in an hour-long Q and A session with the journalism students at the University of Mississippi during a meeting with them on the Oxford campus. The Newsweek editor told students that these are “interesting times” and that the business of “printing on dead trees” will continue to be with us in the future. Armed with a circulation of over three million copies every week, a readership of over 20 million readers, and five to five and a half million unique visitors on the web, Meacham compared the reading habits of consumers in print and online. Meacham said “people do not read long form on the internet. 500 words is the max. An average cover story of Newsweek is 4,000 words, so it takes eight pages on the web.” Meacham asked the students to guess the percentage of viewers/readers who go from page one to page two on the web. “80% DO NOT…they drop before they flip to page two.” And how many stay until page 8 on the web with the story, he asked and quickly answered, “My mom will be the only one.” He reminded the students that journalism is not for the faint hearted and the future is always going to be for good writing…however he warned the students that we have to earn people’s attention and respect their most precious resource, time (I am sure he did not mean TIME). “In a blizzard of choices,” Meacham said, “To reach your audience, you need to be eloquent in the narrative with something new on every page to stop the readers.” Good words of wisdom for everyone who believes that our future is based on good reporting, good writing, good editing and above all a good sense of news judgment. Thank you Jon, we indeed live in “interesting times.”



  1. While I don’t totally disagree with Meacham’s comments on the amount of words people will read online, I would add though that in niche topics, it definitely seems that people are willing to dig deeper into the copy.

    Other than that I think he’s right in general interest topics.

  2. […] (thank you Mr Magazine) […]

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