Also-ran newsweekly U.S. News continues its retreat from competition with Time and Newsweek — not to mention the Internet in general. Last fall it started moving away from news coverage in favour of more list work, a la “Best Colleges”. Now it’s getting out of the newsweekly business altogether, Nat Ives reports at Ad Age: Starting next year, Mort Zuckerman’s mag will crank out a new issue just twice a month.
We think the move’s direction makes sense, but worry that it’s delaying the inevitable with a series of half-steps. Conceding the “news” business to publications that can actually produce “news” — those that publish daily, hourly or by the minute — is smart. So why not go all the way, and get out of the news business altogether?
Unless U.S. News is really going to invest in New Yorker-level writing, reporting, editing, etc., it’s going to be hard to convince a subscriber or newstand buyer to invest time and money in its news coverage. But the brand name, and the lists associated with it, are strong enough to stand on their own. Why not spend all of your resources on them, and stop pretending that anyone’s picking up the magazine for any other reason?
We say this, by the way, as fans of news. And as veteran list-makers. And we’d personally rather produce news or analysis over lists any day. But if we owned the third-ranked competitor in a rapidly shrinking industry, it’d be a no-brainer.