Thursday, May 28, 2009

Media Relations Summit: The New Newsweek

Last week, while at the Media Relations Summit, I attended a panel on how to pitch to the major news magazines - Time, Newsweek and Businessweek. It was an interesting panel. It rapidly became clear to me that the only news magazine that I would probably get coverage for ABI was Businessweek. This was in large part because they covered us previously and we have a relationship, the other part was because they were interested in covering news related to business and technology - our sector.

I am a longtime reader of Time and Newsweek and have subscriptions to both. I started getting Newsweek several years ago when my friend Kathy got a buy one get a gift subscription free deal from Newsweek and gifted me with it. It's now one of my annual Christmas gifts (my sister gives me Martha Stewart Living and I now have a friend who is giving me People Magazine - great gifts all of them). I started Time last year because they made me a great offer - 1 year for $15 - such a ridiculously good deal I couldn't refuse. And I'm lucky to work in HP Labs where I get to read Businessweek in the library which is just feet from my desk.

During the conference the speaker from Newsweek spent his time, not speaking about how to get stories into Newsweek, but rather how Newsweek has reinvented itself. It has become in large part a think piece type magazine. There will be more essays and reporters views on the news rather than covering the news itself. He spoke about the redesign of the magazine and how it was making the magazine more relevant and readable. The trouble with a magazine of think pieces and essays from my perspective,as the person promoting ABI, is that there isn't much room for coverage of a study done on underrepresented minorities in technology. In the new publication there are about 10 small articles up front - each about a column long that cover the week's news. The rest was all essays - which looked remarkably consistent at exactly a page long with nary a picture for several sections. The one extended article this week was on the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street which was quite good.

I recognize that each magazine must follow its own path but as a reader I'm disappointed in the new Newsweek (I didn't like new Coke either). I know that with the age of the Internet and instant news and 24 hour news networks, that the news magazines have to change to remain relevant and offer an alternate perspective on the news. But I miss the CW which highlighted what was in and out that week, the one page of odd celebrity gossip (always amusing and quirky itself), the short articles on happenings in odd corners of the country - the crime articles always made me go scrambling to the net to read more details since I do love a mystery and I'm fascinated by how crime impacts a community. And as someone who spends a lot of time proofreading - I'm not loving the font. They did preserve Perspectives - the mixture of quotes and cartoons from the weeks news - but the page seems oddly washed out and less readable.

Still I will continue to give them a chance - I have months left on my subscription and a few of the essays were somewhat interesting though I didn't find them as riveting as the more hard news articles that were on the pages just a few weeks ago.

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