JONATHAN CHAIT MAY 5, 2010
The news that the Washington Post company is essentially putting Newsweek on the curb and hoping somebody hauls it away for them makes me feel pretty bad for Newsweek's writers and editors. But not so bad that I won't post Michael Kinsley's memorable evisceration of the redesigned magazine. Obviously Kinsley is not the only person who had an inkling Newsweek may be in some trouble. But he did have an especially entertaining take on why it would fail:
In his editor's letter--one of many traditional newsmagazine features that have survived the scythe of change--Jon Meacham says, "We are not pretending to be your guide through the chaos of the Information Age," which concedes a lot of ground from the get-go. Why not at least pretend? ...
The next page of editorial content is an "update" by the author of Newsweek's month-old cover story about former New York governor Eliot Spitzer. It discusses important ethical issues such as whether, in reporting that he and Spitzer had gone jogging together and Spitzer had pooped out, he should have mentioned that he is 20 years younger. Also, whether Newsweek, in publishing the original article, was wrongly participating in Spitzer's rehabilitation. "I didn't write about the process," he writes, "because I thought readers would find the story of private citizen Eliot Spitzer far more interesting than they'd find the story of how Newsweek journalist Jonathan Darman got the story." He'll know better next time. But is this article a "reported narrative"? Or is it a "provocative (but not partisan) argument"? Hard to say. The next page (labeled "Top of the Week") is Meacham's apologia (or is it a mea culpa, or maybe a cri de Coeur?). That means the first three pages of content in the new Newsweek are about Newsweek.