My parents subscribed to Newsweek; it was always lying on the ottoman in the den next to Look and TV Guide and whatever book my mom was reading that week. When I was eleven, I started reading it myself. When I moved out of the house eight years later, my dad gave me my own subscription to Newsweek as a parting gift, and paid for it for years. By then I was reading the magazine cover to cover, even the letters to the editor (some of the best stuff there, my friends), because I liked being informed. Oh, I checked out Time when it was the only thing available in the dentist’s office (I hadn’t yet developed the habit of grabbing something to read whenever I pick up my car keys), but Newsweek was just … better. (It has always been second to Time in circulation, but I find that statistic meaningless. It’s still the better magazine.)
I love my Newsweek. Owned by the Washington Post (until yesterday), it has superior, balanced reporting and brilliant columnists like George Will, Anna Quindlen, and Fareed Zakaria. (There was a time I aspired to be Anna—I buy her books—and Fareed is so darn smart I’d be willing to have his children, although I settle for buying his books.) Jon Meacham, now the executive editor, contributed thoughtful pieces (and still does). I gave up television (completely) in 1997 and, for a time, Newsweek was my only source of news. As far as I was concerned, if it wasn’t in Newsweek, it wasn’t news.
But as you know, newspapers—and, apparently, Newsweek—have been struggling in the Internet age. In an attempt to stop the flow of red ink, in 2009 the powers that be changed Newsweek’s format, repositioning the content toward opinion and commentary. I knew then that something (trouble?) was brewing. And sure enough, a month ago, Meacham’s editorial announced that the magazine was up for sale. That was a blow. And today my friend Cindy has sent me this: “So long, Newsweek.” (I do have to say I understand Graham’s reluctance to sell to the publishers of the National Enquirer and Newsmax.com. Actually, I object less to the Enquirer; everyone knows it’s a rag. But Newsmax has the appearance of legitimacy, until one realizes how woefully biased it is.) (Will I need to do a post about discernment on the Worldwide Web? One suspects yes.) Jon Meacham announced he would leave on the date of the sale, a huge loss.
I’m all verklempt.
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