Friday, August 18, 2006

Time Magazine, Flailing About, To Move Publication From Monday To Friday

Maybe, it's the Internet, maybe it's its price and maybe it's the fact that Time magazine has become quite politically correct, but its circulation has been slipping, and now its editors have decided to publish the magazine on Fridays rather than Mondays. By the end of the year, they say, subscribers should receive it in their homes on Saturdays rather than Tuesdays.

Actually, because of slowness of the post office in delivering the mail, my magazine sometimes already arrives on Saturday, four days later than it should.

The change is reported in today's New York Times. The same article reports advertising in Time is up 6.5% over last year, but circulation has dipped to about 4 million, from 4.6 million. This still gives Time a solid lead over Newsweek, which has a circulation of 3.1 million.

Whether changing the day of publication is a good idea remains to be seen. But it seems to me that having a Monday publishing date makes more sense for a weekly magazine because it allows a whole week's news to be published rather than just part of one week and part of another.

Maybe, Joe Hutchinson has moved from the L.A. Times to Time, and his lamebrained ideas are now affecting that publication.

Time's troubles I think have quite a bit to do with its move to the moderate left from the moderate right. In recent years, the magazine has tended to become more populist, more sympathetic with the Democrats and in the recent war in the Middle East, it took a more critical view of Israel than it has in the recent past. Time also has been in the forefront of reporting alleged American war crimes in Iraq, and has taken an ever dimmer view of the whole war effort there.

Given Time's traditional base of circulation, which probably was in the center to the moderately conservative, this may have soured some of the magazine's readers.

Just this week, Time, which used to confine much of its hiring to Ivy League graduates, ran a story on other colleges, advising good students to look beyond the Ivy League. Even implying, however, that the Ivy League is losing its desirability vis-a-vis other schools is the height of foolishness.

Lisa Beyer's recent story indicating that the Israel-Hezbollah war was not primarily related to terrorism also represented a misstatement of serious proportions.

Time has allowed its Man of the Year feature to become Person of the Year and slip into definite political correctness.

But the press in general, and Time in particular, has to be careful not to alarm the American majority, and it may be doing that as the midterm elections approach. And its unseemly praise of Steven Spielberg's film, "Munich," gave Israel advice it didn't need to start turning the other cheek when terrorists run wild.

The magazine has a new managing editor, Richard Stengel, who is obviously trying to create an impression. But he has to watch out, lest he create the wrong impression. The traditional Time was a better magazine.

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