media metamorphoses

Jon Meacham: New Newsweek ‘Intellectually Satisfying, Visually Rich’

The rebranded version of Newsweek is on stands today. As previously reported, it’s been streamlined and tweaked to look and read more like The Economist. It now has only four sections: a short-form story cluster called “Scope,” a columnist section, a deep features well, and a culture portion. There will also be a running graphic feature called “The Back Story” on the final page. The first issue has Obama on the cover in an interview with Jon Meacham (takeaway: Obama is “Spock with global sex appeal”), and an editor’s letter from Meacham explaining the changes on the inside. Like a parent boasting about his children, the man has high hopes.

According to Meacham, the new redesign and its features will:

• … be “grounded in original observation and freshly discovered fact, that illuminates the important and the interesting.”
• … “bring you original reporting, provocative (but not partisan) arguments and unique voices.”
• … “satisfy one’s curiosity or pique interest.”
• … prompt “unexpected thought.”
• … “bring you as intellectually satisfying and as visually rich an experience as the great monthlies of old did, whether it was Harold Hayes’s Esquire or Willie Morris’s Harper’s, but on a weekly basis.”

Sounds pretty great (and the content looks good, too). But for all the wondrous things Meacham says his new magazine will be able to accomplish, he leaves out perhaps the most important: make money. Survival is the elephant in the editor’s letter. “We think what we do is important,” he writes. “But in the end what matters more is whether you think so, and in so thinking, whether you find that our work repays the investment of your time.” This is perhaps the most floral way we’ve ever heard someone say, “Please, please, please pay for our magazine.” For what it’s worth, we hope it works.

A New Magazine for a Changing World [Newsweek]

Jon Meacham: New Newsweek ‘Intellectually Satisfying, Visually Rich’