Newsweek of 2009 is no different than Newsweek of 1933?May 21, 2009
What if I tell you that the reinvention of Newsweek dates back to 1933. After I read all the media reports regarding the “reinvented and rethought NEWSWEEK” I decided to go into my archives and dig up the first issue of Newsweek dated Feb. 17, 1933. You can always learn about the future from looking (and hopefully) learning from the past.
The 1933 magazine’s logo separated the News from the Week with a hyphen. The 2009 Newsweek’s table of contents eliminated the S from Newsweek leaving it as a New Week. The 1933 magazine was divided into five sections: The Front Page, The News-Week at Home, The News-Week Abroad, Headliners, and The News-Week in Sports, Business and Entertainment. The 2009 magazine is divided into four sections: Scope, The Take, Features and Culture. The examples of the frontispieces (or the splash pages as we call them now) of the 1933 and the 2009 are anything but the same treatment with the added factor of the 76 years of advances in print and color technologies.
Scope (for short-form pieces) in the new magazine is what The News-Week at Home and Abroad used to be in the original Newsweek. The Take in the new magazine is what The Front Page was in the original Newsweek; analysis of the news of the week. The only difference is in The Take you have the columnist names; in the original it was all Newsweek’s. Culture in the new Newsweek is what The News-Week in Sports, Books, Media, etc. were in the original Newsweek.
So how is the new Newsweek different from the old Newsweek? Better paper, better design, better pictures, higher cover and subscription prices (see PS below) and in the words of its editor Jon Meacham “As we see it, Newsweek’s role is to bring you as intellectually satisfying and as visually rich an experience as the great monthlies of old did, whether it was Harold Hayes’s Esquire or Willie Morris’s Harper’s, but on a weekly basis.”
However, if we believe that readers’ time and attention are our biggest competitors, one must ask, is Newsweek as “a monthly on a weekly basis,” going to fare better than the weekly, turned monthly, U.S. News & World Report? If time (no pun intended) is of no concern to either magazine, I can’t but wonder, what about TIME (pun intended)? I guess the survival of the fittest rules in the magazine world, the same as it does in all other industries. At least no one is comparing TIME to The Economist or Martha Stewart Living for that matter.
PS: All the changes to Newsweek do not come without a change in the price of the magazine. The cover price is now $5.95 (almost $320.00 for a year) with an 87% discounted annual subscription of $40.00. Just for the curious folks out there, the cover price in 1933 was 10 cents (almost $5.20 for a year) with a 22% discounted annual subscription of $4.00. The newsstand price grew by almost 6,000% while the subscription grew by only 1,000%. Go figure.