Friday, October 19, 2012

Big Tex or Newsweek? Which is the Biggest Loss?

Big Tex or Newsweek? Which is the Biggest Loss?

Newsweek Shutting Down or Big Tex Burning?: Which is More Significant? Which will society miss the most?

Should we reverse the decline and fall of print media?

The 80 year old Newsweek announced yesterday it could no longer survive as a weekly print magazine, and hence migrating to the internet, following U. S. News & World Reports’ lead of a year ago.

The Washington Post sold Newsweek in April 2010 to Sidney Harman, the audio magnate for $1. The magazine was reportedly losing $25 million annually at that time. Sidney died a year after acquiring Newsweek, and his family cut off the magazine. It’s current losses are up to $40 million.

The last print issue will be December 31, an appropriate time to sing Auld Lang Syne.

The market, in the form of subscribers and advertisers, abandoned Newsweek. A shallow news weekly, which has alienated half the market, cannot compete against the instantaneous news available online and through the cable news channels, or the targeted advertising of the web.

Perhaps if Newsweek finds a niche it might survive.

U.S. News is earning a profit, mostly because of its profitable college and graduate school publications. It has found a niche to survive.

Newsweek chose the wrong niche.

The niche that Newsweek staked out the past four years under two editors was to be the biggest media shill for President Obama with scores of Obama covers. I blogged on July 31, 2012 “Newsweek’s Last Hurrah: The Romney Wimp Issue” that Newsweek was on its last legs and that the August 5 cover story calling Governor Romney a wimp was not going to save it.

Newsweek went against the grain, its grain, on August 19 with an anti-Obama Cover by Niall Ferguson calling for the President ”To hit the road.” It generated commentary, but the last gasp didn’t generate cash. It’s back to pro-Obama.

The new digital magazine  will be directed at a "highly mobile, opinion-leading audience who want to learn about world events in a sophisticated context." That may not be a distinctive niche.

The print Newsweek will not be missed. We will wait to see if the internet Newsweek survives.

Big Tex has greeted patrons of the Texas Sate Fair for 60 years. Big Tex is not the Walmart greeter. Everything is big in Texas, even the fire that consumed Big Tex today. Big Tex was reduced to his skeletal remains, hands, and a belt buckle in ten minutes.

Park patrons were traumatized; they lost a member of the family, the biggest member of the family.

Words alone cannot describe Big Tex. Seeing is believing, and a hearty “Hoooowdddde Fooolllllks” greeting through Big Tex’ Big Mouth hits us with stark reality; Texas thinks big. Big Tex was 52’ tall, that’s 52 feet, not 52 inches, wore Size 70 boots and a 75 gallon hat.

The dispatcher’s comment to firefighters was we “got a rather tall cowboy with all the clothes burned off.”

Big Tex is deep down a man of steel.

Big Tex can, and will, be rebuilt. Newsweek cannot be revived. 

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