US news magazines reinventing themselves as ad pages slip

It’s not just newspapers that are going through hard times in the US, so are news magazines.

It’s not so much sales. The circulation of Newsweek and Time, the two main news magazine, has remained fairly constant at around 3 million and 4 million respectively. But both titles have suffered a large drop in ad pages – around 7 per cent each.

The tempo and type of news coverage in both magazines is changing, not so much to win new readers but to be more attractive to advertisers.

Vanishing are some of the in-depth analysis of world events, and the retelling of major news stories. One reason for this is that younger readers are harder to catch – and keep.

There was a disquieting moment for Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, when giving a speech at Columbia University recently. He asked the 100 or more students attending how many read Newsweek. Not one hand went up.

Meacham said afterwards that he suspected most of the students regard news mags as the sort of publications their grandparents read.

In an effort to counter this, Newsweek has brought in a new stable of younger writers and reporters.

Time, which this year marks its 85th anniversary, is playing up its history reminding its readers of the magazine’s notable coverage of such events as Lindbergh’s Flight across the Atlantic, the Stock Mark Crash, Pearl Harbour the Landing on the Moon, JFK’s Assassination and of course its annual selection of the Man of the Year (now Person of the Year).

This month Time is publishing its 4,444th issue. – and later this year plans a collection of some of its most note-worthy and famous stories.

At the same time both are busy once again reinventing themselves.

One change that Time has made is switching its publication day from Monday to Friday – in the belief that most readers have more time for Time over the weekend.

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