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Jon Meacham Bets You Want More Newsweek, Not Less


Dylan Stableford By Dylan Stableford
10/15/2007 -02:00 AM






 

Six months after Time executed a historic redesign-and seemingly told anyone (read: Charlie Rose) who would listen-Newsweek has unveiled a redesign of its own, albeit ushered in with considerably less fanfare. Here's editor Jon Meacham's note:

We have two pieces of news close to home: a redesign of the magazine and of Newsweek.com. Our renovations come at an interesting time for journalism. As the number of news outlets expands, it is said, attention spans shrink; only the fast and the pithy will survive. Some people in our business believe print should emulate the Internet, filling pages with short, Weblike bites of information.

We disagree. There is a simple idea behind the changes in the issue of newsweek you are holding: we are betting that you want to read more, not less. Other media outlets believe you just want things quick and easy. We think you will make the time to read pieces that repay the effort.

Led by Amid Capeci (the legendary Roger Black consulted with us, and Dan Revitte and Bonnie Scranton were instrumental), the redesign is more about refinement than revolution; many changes are subtle. The most important shift is a cleaner visual presentation that gives our writers more words and creates a better showcase for photography. We have also added pages to periscope, expanded the conventional wisdom watch and given voices like Jonathan Alter, Sharon Begley, Ellis Cose, Howard Fineman, Daniel Gross, Steven Levy, Lisa Miller, Anna Quindlen, Robert Samuelson, George Will and Fareed Zakaria a bit more space in which to make their points.

You will notice other things, too. At the end of tip sheet we now have a weekly column alternating among Kathleen Deveny on "Modern Family," Julia Reed on "Food & Drink," N'Gai Croal on geek culture, and Jane Bryant Quinn on personal finance.

For editors talking about redesigns or changings of the guard, it is very tempting to make grand declarations, but I am going to try to resist. Hyperbole does not get us very far, and you would hardly expect someone in my job to say anything other than greatness is either at, or already in, hand.
What matters is what you think of the magazine week in and week out. We do not do focus groups or market research; we simply report, write and edit using our best judgment and our sense of what will challenge, engage and (pleasantly) surprise you. How do we arrive at this "sense"? This way: guided by our constant, organic conversation with readers through e-mails, letters and online comments, we publish the magazine we would want to get every week on the ground that if we find something interesting, you probably will, too.

For much of our history--we turn 75 in January, and Newsweek.com celebrates its 10th anniversary next year--we were consumed, naturally, with the content of the pages of the magazine. For the last decade and for the foreseeable decades to come, however, we have not one but two jobs: to produce a print magazine you are eager to read, and a Web site with daily original content that you find compelling. What links them is our commitment to bringing you reporting, voices and analyses you cannot get elsewhere.

At Newsweek.com you will find a new site that uses the latest technology to make our content more accessible. Under the leadership of Deidre Depke, a team that includes Rolf Ebeling, Cathy Fenlon and Kevin Stuart has reinvented the Web site. There are more features, more video, more blogs, a Daily Conventional Wisdom and expanded coverage channels (with a special commitment to health news). Turn to page 8 of this issue for more on what you can expect to see online.

In this week's issue, Christopher Dickey and Jessica Ramirez explore Iraq's war marriages. Lally Weymouth pulls double duty, interviewing Clarence Thomas and Lebanese leader Saad Hariri. Evan Thomas and Mark Hosenball profile Blackwater's Erik Prince, the reclusive head of the controversial private security firm.

Redesigns can be unsettling, and we will no doubt be making adjustments in the coming weeks and months, both here and online. But overall, we like what we see--and we think you will, too. You are, after all, our only focus group.

--Jon Meacham

Quick open question: Does Roger Black have to be involved in every magazine redesign?





Dylan Stableford By Dylan Stableford --

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