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What Did 'Newsweek' Do Wrong?

by David Gura
May 6, 2010

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Yesterday morning, we learned that Newsweek magazine has, in the words of Howard Kurtz, media columnist for The Washington Post, a "hazy future." Its owner, The Washington Post Company, is putting the weekly up for sale.

Last night, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham was a guest on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. As New York magazine reports, he was supposed "to plug his new PBS show Need to Know," which he'll co-host with our old friend Alison Stewart. Instead, he talked about Newsweek, Newsweek, and more Newsweek.

Meacham — Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, frequent guest on NBC's Meet The Press, and cultural commentator — is getting a lot of heat for what he did — or didn't — do to Newsweek. Josh Koblin of The New York Observer has aggregated some of the criticism, from Kurtz, Jack Shafer, Michael Wolf, and others:

Howard Kurtz: "Part of the strategy was a radical redesign. I was not a fan of it, and neither, I can tell you, were a number of people who work there."

Chris Rovzar: "'But virtually 100 percent of the employees under 40'" believe that Meacham is hurting the magazine, says one such print staffer. "'For a journalist, he is bizarrely incurious about the world,'" this source continues, complaining that Meacham's "'interests extend to history, politics, and ... well, that's about it.'"

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