Jon Meacham admits it is hard to explain, even to his own people, why chopping Newsweek's circulation in half is a good thing.(Hat-tip: Hot Air Headlines.) Raise the price and discourage subscriptions? Brilliant! And check out their "innovative" idea for revamping content:
"It's hugely counterintuitive," the magazine's editor says. "The staff doesn't understand it." . . .
Newsweek, owned by The Washington Post Co. . . . is bleeding red ink, losing nearly $20 million in the first quarter. Newsweek, whose circulation was as high as 3.1 million in recent years, plans to cut that to 1.5 million by the beginning of 2010, in part by discouraging renewals. The magazine will begin charging the average subscriber about 90 cents an issue, nearly double the current rate.
"If we can't convince a million and a half people we're worth less than a dollar a week, the market will have spoken," Meacham says. The newsstand price will also jump from $4.95 to $5.95, a buck more than Time.
Meacham, an admirer of the Economist, is fashioning a serious magazine for what he calls his base, with a heavy emphasis on politics and public policy.Right. You're going to turn a mass-circulation news magazine into some sort of highbrow policy journal . . . weekly! And then watch the money roll in! If this isn't the stupidest business strategy in the history of journalism -- that's a pretty tough competition -- it's certainly in the Top Five.
Notice that Meacham's idea is to publish a magazine resembling a magazine that he likes to read. Call it the Narcissus Reflecting Pool Theory of journalism: If the top editor admires a certain publication, then trying to imitate that publication must be a good business strategy. What you are doing, therefore, is producing a publication for your own editors, rather than for the readers.
This is all very good if the editor is a visionary with a sense of what the reading public wants. But if your editor is a clueless dingbat like Jon Meacham, you're screwed.
My advice to Newsweek staffers: Update your resumes.
UPDATE: Welcome, fellow AOSHQ Morons! You might also enjoy my take on MoDoGate, and my most recent American Spectator column, "The Republicans Who Really Matter."
UPDATE II: Allahpundit loves me again!
It smells like they're trying to remake themselves into a lefty rag like the American Prospect albeit with a bit more populist appeal and investigative journalism. Not quite as highbrow as TNR, not quite as lowbrow as MSNBC, but extra "serious" and willing to charge a bit more for their new supposed prestige.Now if I can just get him to front-page my Green Room post about the cowardice of the elite . . .
UPDATE III: Welcome NRO readers! Perhaps you'd like to sample some delicious lesbian cookies?