08/08/2006 - The news magazine business, like many old media platforms, is facing its share of concerns. Given the increased emphasis in the new media landscape on real time news and instant commentary, these publications - with their weekly schedules and more reflective, analytical approach - are in danger of being seen as anachronisms. And long-time industry leaders Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report have seen their circulation and ad pages shrink.
The three big news magazines had a particularly rough 2005. Ad pages dropped at all of them, with Time and Newsweek witnessing double-digit percentage declines. Last year, circulation for Time and Newsweek was at its lowest point at any time in almost 20 years, while U.S. News registered its second lowest circulation count in nearly two decades. Staffs were slashed as well. Time Inc. laid off 105 people from throughout the organization in 2005, including Time bureau chiefs in Moscow, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. U.S. News also endured cuts that reached into the upper levels of the masthead.
But at the same time, magazines such as The Week and the London-based Economist have been experiencing rapid growth in US readership and advertising. This suggests that different editorial models can succeed in a difficult environment and that readers may be looking for creative variations on the traditional American news magazine approach.
In this Project for Excellence in Journalism roundtable discussion, magazine industry experts see change as not only inevitable, but essential if the publications are to continue to survive. But they disagree about just what those changes should entail.
William Falk, Editor, The Week
Samir Husni, Chairperson, University of Mississippi Journalism Department and author of Samir Husni's Guide to New Magazines
Daniel Okrent, former Editor, Time Inc. new media
Victor Navasky, Chairman, Columbia Journalism Review, former Editor, The Nation
Read the full transcript--State of the News Media 2006: Magazines Roundtable.