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"Newsweekly:" Contradictory Term?

Frank Ahrens

Today's news is about the massive layoffs at Time Inc.'s big magazines, Time, People, Sports Illustrated and other marquee nameplates.

"The layoffs are about the restructuring of our editorial staffs as we move quickly into a future of flexible, multiplatform content creation," John Huey, Time Inc.'s editor in chief, e-mailed staff members yesterday.

We saw the same thing last fall when NBC said it would cut 700-some jobs and slash $750 million from its budget. (That's what we call "TV money," as opposed to our nickel-and-dime print operation.), as it had to rob Paul to pay Peter: take from the TV budget to pay for the necessary new digital budget.

The newsweekly magazines -- Time, Newsweek (owned by The Washington Post Co.) and U.S. News & World Report -- have been flagging for some time.

The mere term "newsweekly" sounds odd these days. So....19th century. Almost Harper's Weeklyish, as in, "Hey, did you see those new Matthew Brady photographs from Antietam? The battle happened last month and the magazine already had them this week!"

We can't even wait until tomorrow to find out the news: the term "daily newspaper" sounds slow.

So newsweeklies such as Time face an added burden of staying relevant. Their future is on the Web, they believe, and they are making what they believe are the necessary cuts.

In the process, the Henry Luce model of newsgathering he pioneered at Time -- fleets of nameless stringers and reporters funneling facts to the ermine-clad writers in New York -- is gone. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe not. Bottom line, however, the Old Ways of journalism cannot hold.

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 19, 2007; 11:56 AM ET  | Category:  Frank Ahrens
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$750 Billion? You are out by a factor of a thousand. Billion -> Million

Posted by: Mike McLennan | January 19, 2007 5:39 PM

Yikes! Good catch, Mike. Was typing too fast. Am fixing now.

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