On Wednesday night’s episode of “The Daily Show,” Newsweek editor in chief Jon Meacham laid out what you’d think should be a no-brainer strategy for any news organisation toggling between the print and digital worlds.
“For 77 years, the emphasis has been on the print,” he said, after Jon Stewart asked him if people still had the patience to wait a week for analysis and commentary when they can get it online 24/7.
“It’s probably time to flip that,” Meacham continued, “in which you are solely focused on the digital, and by the end of the week, you take the best stuff” and compile it for the people who “want to hold the magazine in their hands. And there are people that still do that.”
Meacham had originally been booked on “The Daily Show” to plug his new PBS show, “Need to Know,” which premiers on Friday, May 7.
So Meacham’s appearance was bad timing in the sense that it came on the heels of a considerably negative PR day for Newsweek, but good timing in the sense that it gave him the chance to make a nationally televised case for why the faltering magazine still matters.
And make a case he did.
“I do not believe Newsweek is the only catcher in the rye between democracy and ignorance,” Meacham said, echoing a comment he’d made earlier in the day to The New York Observer, “but I think we’re one of them, and I don’t think there are that many on the edge of that cliff.”
The audience applauded as he continued: “We have to decide, are we ready to get what we’re willing to pay for? And if you’re not gonna pay for news, then you’re going to get a different kind of news.”
Stewart asked, “Who is making money in the magazine business who does what you do? Who is a successful model?”
“The Economist,” Meacham replied.
(Newsweek underwent a slick redesign last May that it hoped would appeal to Economist readers—a demographic Meacham has not been shy about coveting—but it apparently was not enough to deflect the magazine’s losses.)
Meacham ended the segment with a sweeping endorsement for Newsweek’s future. And a joke.
“This is an existential crisis,” he said, “and it’s not just because I feel incredibly strongly that this magazine, for 77 years and unto this hour, has mattered to the life of this country, and is one of the very few common denominators in a fragmented world.
“I think the country will be poorer for our disappearing,” he continued. “The good news is, we did not close today. We went up for sale. And I will be over in the morning with the prospectus.”
Here’s the clip:
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c Exclusive – Jon Meacham Extended Interview Pt. 1 www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political humour Tea PartyAnd here’s a bonus clip of Meacham’s November 2008 “Daily Show” appearance:
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