Newsweek reinvents itself as little-read journal of middlebrow opinion or something

A quantum leap from being a little-read journal of middlebrow news analysis.

There will, for the most part, be two kinds of stories in the new NEWSWEEK. The first is the reported narrative—a piece, grounded in original observation and freshly discovered fact, that illuminates the important and the interesting. The second is the argued essay—a piece, grounded in reason and supported by evidence, that makes the case for something.

What is displaced by these categories? The chief casualty is the straightforward news piece and news written with a few (hard-won, to be sure) new details that does not move us significantly past what we already know. Will we cover breaking news? Yes, we will, but with a rigorous standard in mind: Are we truly adding to the conversation? When violence erupts in the Middle East, are we saying something original about it? Are our photographs and design values exceptional? If the answers are yes, then we are in business.

I.e. if you’re a lefty and love the New Yorker but struggle with some of the bigger words, now there’s a magazine for you. According to Kurtz, part of the “strategy” here involves deliberately shedding circulation by doubling the price of each issue for subscribers, thereby discouraging renewals. If that doesn’t make sense to you, don’t worry: Newsweek’s editor says it doesn’t make sense to his staff either. I sympathize with their plight — there’s no sense in a weekly simply recapping news anymore since most stories have already gone moldy on blogs by the time it hits the stands — but I don’t see what huge value is added by the reinvention. 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. Like Stacy McCain says, it’s almost as if the editors are remaking it into the sort of magazine they’ve always wanted to write for, not the sort the public necessarily wants to read. If they truly wanted to be daring and try something new, they would have gone in the opposite direction and become more tabloid. But how gauche would that have been?

You’ll be glad to know that Jon Meacham, the editor, wants to “make sure people don’t believe we’re partisan.” Which I guess explains the pattycake interview with Obama up on the site right now and Tina Brown’s defense of disgraceful liar Nancy Pelosi. Not to mention juvenile crap like this.