Unhelpful Advice for Newsweek: Give the People What They Want

0607silhouette Unhelpful Advice for Newsweek: Give the People What They WantFirst the Newsweek sale opened the door for anyone to say whatever they want about Jon Meacham. (According to Sally Quinn, most of these people were just jealous.) Now the sale is turning everyone into a media critic, with help from David Carr.

“It’s easy to throw rocks at a magazine — any magazine — as it tries to contend with overwhelmed readers, digital competition and a fractured culture,” wrote David Carr in The Times today. But what would he do?

A few things: use photography a little more imaginatively, incorporate writers who don’t regard MSNBC as their second home. Also: More women.

He has encouraged others to chime in with their own advice for the magazine. Crowdsourcing, it’s called!

A Columbia professor wrote that the magazine should come out on Friday. A Thomson Reuters manager said the magazine should enforce a 48-hour production schedule to make the magazine fresher.

One reader suggested that the magazine should be more like the Christian Science Monitor. Simon Dumenco said that Barry Diller should buy it and hand the keys to Tina Brown. Another wrote that it should become more like The New Yorker (Mr. Carr said that was not possible!).

That said, Mr. Carr thinks Newsweek could do well to be more like Entertainment Weekly, New York and Esquire.

One point that Mr. Carr made that was echoed by readers was that Newsweek editors, namely Mr. Meacham and Fareed Zakaria, spend too much time on television.

It may be good for the writers’ brands, but it’s not good for readers. This week, Fareed Zakaria, in an otherwise considered essay on the costs of a foreign policy based on belligerence, opened the piece by saying, “They say a picture is worth a thousand words.”

I think “they” also say that if you want people to read what you write, you should summon a compelling opening. If the editors and writers are not giving the magazine their fullest attention, why should the reader?