A LESSON FOR JOURNALISM – AT 10:57 A.M. ET: Many journalists whine that the economic problems of their business are caused by the internet. It reminds me of the whining in Hollywood in the early fifties that their problems were all caused by television.
There are no doubt challenges to print journalism from the internet. But a greater part of their problem is their loss of credibility. When readers don't think they're getting a straight story, they go somewhere else. Fox News was built on the principle of giving people stories they weren't getting anywhere else.
A very recent example is fascinating, delightful, and instructive. From Ad Age:
Newsweek received withering and widespread criticism over its "Hit the Road, Barack" cover story by Niall Ferguson. The magazine had become "an august publication letting itself be used to misinform readers," critics said, "stumbling down the road toward Irrelevance Blvd." The "Hit the Road" piece itself was "a fantasy world of incorrect and tendentious facts" and "completely incoherent" as well as "absurd propaganda, not journalism."
But it turns out the cover may have also been a newsstand hit.
The Aug. 27 issue urging a Romney victory "may have just knocked one out of the park on newsstand sales," according to the Magazine Information Network, or MagNet, which tracks magazine sales.
The early read on sales suggests the issue could double Newsweek's newsstand average, MagNet said. It's also on track to land among the title's top three newsstand sellers since 2010, according to MagNet data.
A spokesman for Newsweek and The Daily Beast wasn't immediately able to confirm MagNet's newsstand numbers but said the issue sold well. "All reports indicate the August 27th issue was a strong performer both in print at the newsstand and on tablet," the spokesman said.
IPad edition downloads on the issue's first day were 4.3 times higher than usual, the spokesman said.
COMMENT: Maybe this will give the smug liberals in journalism some pause. Niall Ferguson, the Harvard professor who wrote the cover story, has taken serious abuse from within the academic world, including suggestions that his academic status be re-evaluated. But he has survived and will prosper.
I don't think the one successful edition will save Newsweek, which has deteriorated into a front operation for the Democratic Party. But it tells a mighty story.
September 1, 2012