The Last Days of the Media

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.

Pages: 1 2

The magazine business isn’t what it used to be. In the last ten years, Newsweek lost 2.5 million readers, and its newsstand sales are hardly worth mentioning. A full-page ad in it costs less than the price of a luxury car. Sold for a buck to the husband of an influential Congresswoman, merged with an internet site, it survives only by building issues around provocative essays and covers.

If you want to understand why Newsweek put a badly photoshopped picture of Obama with a gay halo on its cover or features Romney doing a number from The Book of Mormon, you need only look at those numbers. Fifteen years ago desperate tactics like that were for alt weeklies like The Village Voice, but Time and Newsweek are the new Village Voice.

There is no news business anymore, just media trolls looking for a traffic handout, feeding off manufactured controversies that they create and then report on. Magazines and sites struggling to stay alive while preaching to a narrow audience which likes essays by leftist cranks and mocking pictures of conservatives. And they’re not alone; any magazine that still covers politics, covers it in the same exact way.

There are house-style differences between the New Yorker, which still features its trademark cartoons, and Vanity Fair and Esquire, and Time and Newsweek, but they are all basically the same. The same essays repeating the same views for the same audience; all of them fighting for that small slice of elitist leftist pie.

The real 1 percent is right there. That small elitist fragment of America which writes books for itself, makes TV shows for itself and writes outraged articles for itself about a tiny 1 percent elite that runs everything. It has its own books, its own TV shows, its own music, its own stores, its own stations, its own brands and now it has most of the magazines to itself. It’s a claustrophobic village raising its own inner child with inane repetitions of its narrow-minded views.

If I’m reading through a long mocking piece on Midwestern Republican primary voters who support Michele Bachmann or an essay by a Muslim columnist on American Islamophobia, how can I tell which magazine I’m reading? Easy. Is it the one with a gay Obama on the cover or the one with a woman breastfeeding a three-year-old?

The story is no longer the story. Now the cover is the story with magazines reporting on their own covers, which become the story. And the story? Who cares about the story really. You can know everything about the story by glancing at the cover. And then you don’t have to buy it anymore, which explains why newsstand sales aren’t doing too well.

Magazines like to tell advertisers that every single subscription sale actually means five or six readers across a family. That’s wishful thinking. Families with five or six members are not buying Time or Newsweek these days. They might be subscribing to Popular Mechanics or Ebony.

Don’t weep for Newsweek though. It’s a brand and brands never die. They just get dumbed down and sold and resold. Five years from now Newsweek may be an airline magazine or an internet portal tracking Twitter news trends, but it will be around in one form or another. For now there’s Newsweek Polska with a six figure circulation, Newsweek Korea with 40,000 readers and Newsweek Pakistan with 15,000 readers. Perhaps one day Newsweekwill be remembered as a Pakistani news mag that got its start in the States.

The brands may have a future, but the content doesn’t. There are only so many provocative essayists around and only so many people willing to buy badly photoshopped covers featuring the controversy of the week. The friction of the controversy makes dull people seem interesting and stupid people seem smart. It makes the kind of people who moved to New York to be able to see Will Ferrell make fun of Bush on Broadway feel that they’re relevant, but there aren’t enough of them to support a magazine with international news bureaus and all the trappings of a serious news organization.

There’s barely enough money in that market to cover the expenses of Salon, Slate and The Nation, reliably lefty publications which cravenly feed their audiences its prejudices back in small doses. Time and Newsweek muscling into that same turf, not to mention every other site and magazine following that same business model, is a bit much.

Pages: 1 2

  • Wordy

    Way back in 1986 Jon Margolis, a liberal columnist for the Chicago Tribune, admitted that in "the theater, fashion, much of the cultural and intellectual world—it actually helps to be a homosexual, with the discrimination going the other way" ( Discriminatory liberal bigots have been undermining the media and other institutions for a long time. The chickens are finally coming home to roost.

  • truebearing

    The media does one thing very well….occupies the space that the real media used to, which prevents truth from being reported. The Left uses the media to obfuscate as much as propagandize, but the glaring omissions in their coverage are arguably more destructive than their transparent attempts at mind control. Their see-no-evil ignorance of Obama's past got him elected.

    The only solution is to bypass the msm and create new media.

    • George Zilbergeld

      Good idea.

      How ? Where?


      • truebearing

        Depending on how much money you have, or can raise, anything from local newspapers, to radio stations, to websites. Local publications that are networked regionally or nationally can be effective at re-educating the citizens. Websites are fine but get lost in space if not funded well. The other thing that is beneficial about publications is that they aren't passive media that people have to go to to get the message. From a marketing standpoint, publications can penetrate a market, or voting population, and address complex issues effectively. A publication that is linked to a website, or several websites, if done properly, can be especially effective locally/regionally.

        It takes money to start any media, but Fox News is an example of how successful it can be, and how starved America is for media not controlled by the Left. Wealthy Americans should be investing in new media if they don't want their money confiscated by the government.

    • Oleg

      Create new media? If you just read this article you have just witnessed the new media and bipassed the old MSM (or consensus media as Ezra Levant calls it)

      • truebearing

        What happens to the conservative voice if a contrived situation arises where Obama shuts it down "for national security concerns?" We'd better have more than one vehicle, right?


    Wikipedia entry on US Magazine circulation numbers:

    1 AARP The Magazine 22,407,421 1958 AARP
    2 AARP Bulletin 22,171,632 1960 AARP
    3 The Costco Connection 8,590,453 1988 Costco
    4 Better Homes And Gardens 7,617,844 1922 Meredith
    5 Game Informer 7,514,460 1991 GameStop
    6 Reader's Digest 5,560,046 1922 The Reader's Digest Association
    7 National Geographic 4,480,788 1888 National Geographic Society
    8 Good Housekeeping 4,341,426 1885 Hearst Magazines
    9 Woman's Day 3,886,853 1931 Hearst Magazines
    10 Family Circle 3,872,671 1932 Meredith
    11 People 3,569,811 1974 Time Inc. (Time Warner)
    12 Time 3,298,390 1923 Time Inc. (Time Warner)

    • Roger

      I used to read Reader's Digest until it swung to the left.
      And some day I'll be expected to read AARP.

      But I don't know a single person that pays for any of those titles any more.

      • Looking4Sanity

        Don't get involved with AARP. They're in bed with the proglib soc-ialists. Seniors are dropping them like a hot rock for that very reason.

        • Roger

          Oh, and guess what? This morning the troll currently known as 'hero' admitted he's muslim.

          9 minutes ago @ News From – Obama Calls Iran's Nuc… · 0 replies · +1 points
          "I just thank Allah every day that I'm not you."

          • Looking4Sanity

            I didn't find the article. They must have archived it already. You got the actual link to that? You can do a right click and "copy link location" and then paste it.

          • Roger
          • Looking4Sanity

            Thanks. I actually tracked it down through your profile., huh? What a POS web site that appears to be. It makes a perfect bridge for a troll to live under, doesn't it?

          • Roger

            Well, let's just say there is a lot of growling going on under that bridge.

      • Amused

        When you get old enough for AARP Roger , your brain will be mush ….so dont worry about it …lol…you're half way there now .

        • Roger

          Like yourself?

          Nope. I actually think still instead of letting the talking points march me like a little puppet.

    • aspacia

      Screw, Wiki is not a valid source.

      • Amused

        you guys oughta love wiki , it is and has all the potentials for revisionists , just like yourselves .

        • Amused

          So what is your point ? LOL…Reders Digest is a socialist /marxist publication ? Yea ! Screw the media , come to FPM and Breitbart .Com for your " FACTS " . You birdbrains , especially the four of you presently displaying your unabashed stupidity , is what I mean about witnessing the Advance of Stupidity . The author of this "article " accomadates your paranoia , and enhances your brainlessness . You are no better than your counterparts at Anti-War .Com

        • Roger

          Facts are what they are.

  • texasmom4

    Many of us are old enough to remember when Time and Newsweek magazines actually had weight and credibility; over the years they have lost both. New Yorker? Many of us still subscribe; partly nostalgia and also for at least a glimpse of what Broadway plays and other entertainment is going on in the Big Apple.

    • Maxie

      I recently scanned an issue of the New Yorker while waiting in the doctor's office. Amazing how bad it has become. Even its' once-great cartoons are second-rate at best.

    • Amused

      They still do , you just been spending too much time with your FPM blinders on . Ahhhh , but ya still love the "entertainment " …lololol….so do I and it can be found right here , a circus act-a-minute .

  • kafir4life

    The NY Times can't even be used to line a cat's litter box. The cat's consider it redundent.

    • StephenD

      Very funny!!

      Still, we ought to be concerned that they have given up on the very important work of being our eyes and ears and reporting THE TRUTH.

      Mr. Greenfield said it perfectly:
      "That is the traditional function of a court jester and it is the new function of the media, which may style themselves as “Protectors of Democracy,” but are in reality just the tyrant’s capering fools in the rainbow halo."

  • tagalog

    So the explanation for the sales of these rags is that the lefties still buy news magazines. I remember the scene in the D.A. Pennebaker documentary Don't Look Back about Bob Dylan's 1966 (or thereabouts) England tour, where he talked to the Time reporter and mocked him in that annoying post-adolescent way he had (and still has to this day, late in his life) about how Time homogenizes and cooks down news stories. Well, I guess nostalgia is fine if you still have the money in these hard times to buy mags like Newsweek and Time for their covers, so more power to them. Keep on spending those bucks, lefties! Keep the mags limping along…

    • Amused

      what a schmuck you are tagalog .

      • tagalog

        I guess you're not Amused, eh?

        Do you ride a camel? If you did, people could remark to one another, "Look at the schmuck on that camel!"

        I know it's an oldie, but still a goodie…

  • BS77

    The best magazine was MAD….great satire, visuals and humor……If you get a chance, re read the original MAD READER……..hilarious. Time, Newsweek, NY Times……boring leftist drivel

  • Raymond in DC

    "Sold for a buck to the husband of an influential Congresswoman, merged with an internet site, it [Newsweek] survives only by building issues around provocative essays and covers."

    The sale included the buyer's assumption of outstanding debt which, as I recall, was about $70 million. Harman should have stuck to the audio business. (I still own some Harman/Kardon gear.)

  • mrbean

    Today, the mainstream media beginning to lose all credibility and Americans beginning to use other forms of media, not run by liberal ideologues, for their information Soon, the mainstream media will cease to exist as being influential and Americans already know that it has started to die as the internet generation grows. The outstanding expose by the internet generation on the Bush National Guard service smear job by Dan Rather and CBS comes to mind.

    • Roger

      And all the coverage on global warming.

      When climate gate broke on Dan Rather's fax machine they were doomed.

      • Amused

        What made Rather such an idiot was , he bought into a forgery , failing to do what every TRUE journalist should have done , he allowed someone else to do ….fact check the document. Ya know just like you guys and the authors here do on a daily basis . Youe exception here of course , is that you do the same in reverse also ….like the Birthers among you , who most Republican Politicians are afraid to admonish .They have the ral document , and the historical ctrosschecked proof backing it up , yet they claim some conspiratory forgery ,which must by it's nature must include the whole State of Hawaii .

        • Roger

          And was Hitler a conspiracy that involved all of Germany?

  • Looking4Sanity

    Witnessing the death of MSM is like waiting for a late stage Alzheimer patient to expire. Painful, embarrassing and nauseating.

    • Roger

      But necessary.

      The press is so poisoned we will be better off without it.
      I don't hear a single person saying "I miss Dan Rather's fair and balanced reporting so much…"

      • Looking4Sanity

        In the case of the MSM, the moral thing to do would be to just put it down and put a merciful end to its suffering…not to mention OUR suffering!

  • clarespark

    The old magazines may be on their last legs, but NPR and HBO have taken their place. For instance, HBO will show their film Gellhorn-Hemingway on Monday May 28, which will be an entire coverup of the politics of both writers, covertly supporting the Chinese Communists in 1941. I wrote about their adventure here:…. Compare the richness of the material to the HBO film, that will focus on sex, romance, and the wonderment of a woman as war correspondent.

    • Lisa Hawkins

      This is fascinating and I just "chirped" it on Twitter (see @globaltwitizen).

      • clarespark

        Thanks, Lisa. That is a big boost to my morale.

    • tagalog

      Why would it be necessary in 1941 for anyone to "cover up" their support for the Red Chinese? In 1941, the choice was between Chinese Reds and Chinese nationalists under Chiang Kai-Shek, a soul brother to Hitler and Mussolini if there ever was one. We only supported Chiang because he was the only one fighting (if you could call it fighting, using Allied troops and planes) the Japanese as the Reds retreated everywhere. Evans Carlson, a Marine who later formed the Raiders, not only supported the Reds but accompanied Mao and his troops on the Long March. The Marine mantra "Gung Ho!" ("work together") comes from the Reds via Carlson.

      • clarespark

        The issue in early 1941 was whether or not the alliance between the KMT and the CCP would hold together. Hemingway was sent there to assess that relationship. Obviously, you did not read my review essay. If you had, you could not have posted as you did. There was a strong bias among such journalists as Theodore White to favor the Communists. Are you prepared to defend their regime in China in the 20th century? Are you a Maoist?

        • tagalog

          You didn't answer my question. I'm sure you're aware of that.

          No to both of your questions. Why would you ask me those things unless you're trying to score some points? Is there some other reason?

          Do you think Evans Carlson, a hero on Guadalcanal and Makin Island, was a Chinese Red, or sympathizer?

          • clarespark

            In answer to your first question: Gellhorn and Hemingway went to China while the Nazi-Soviet Pact was still on. The CPUSA had lost adherents when the Pact was signed in 1939. I.e., the Popular Front was kaput until Hitler invaded the Soviet Union later that year. End of story. Gellhorn dutifully wrote about Chiang favorably when she did her pieces for Collier's, for her friend Roosevelt was supporting him (as was Moscow). You didnt read my article, did you. See especially segement 4. In later years, she praised the Communists, and was taken, correctly, to be on the Left.

  • Kendrick1

    A greater portion of business owners are conservative. Businesses advertise. Why would a business owner want to advertise in any medium that incessantly works against that business?

    • Looking4Sanity

      In a word…profit. To any free market capitalist, profit trumps philosophy every time. It is the reason they exist. This is why the free market can not function without morality. No system functions correctly in the absence of morality.

  • Ghostwriter

    I think the feeling among many in the media is that they are better than their readers. And I think it shows. There may come a day in which stuff like "Time,""Newsweek,"and others like them finally wake up and start acting like news people and not like propagandists. I hope they also start to respect the opinions of the rest of the country. I don't think it's too late for them but they have to change. If they stop treating us like idiots and started treating us like intelligent people who think for themselves,then yeah,the print media can come back.

    • johnnywoods

      Don`t hold your breath, Ghost.

  • Sage on the Stage

    Pittsburgh is a two-newspaper town. The daily circulation of the Post-Gazette(Liberal rag) fell 4.2 % last year,
    to 230,887. The P-G's Sunday circulation fell 4.8%. The Tribune-Review(Moderate/Conservative rag) circulation gained 2 %, to 106,671; but their Sunday circulation also fell about 3%. Go Tribune-Review!

  • WilliamJamesWard

    The MSM has been promoting anti-American, anti-family, anti-religious, anti-capatalist,
    anti-boyscout, anti-sanity for years and finally Americans are caught on to the fact it is all
    ultimatly against them, their values and beliefs. Why spend money on what poisons your
    mind and soul………………………….William

    • Looking4Sanity

      Touche, William.

  • Amused

    Well look who's calling the kettle black " Mr.Greenfield .Keep on dreaming . If think the veritable sewer known as the internet will take the place of the media you have another pipedream coming . And as far as "maufactured news " the internet takes the cake handsdown , for it is "Spinland " with a capitol S . LOLOL…just take alook at this blog or , or any of the Lefty blogs !
    It's just a matter of the sheet floating at the top criticizing the sheet floating at the bottom . The inetrnet is infected with frauds , psuedo-science , idiot hackers , hatemongers , scammers ,hacks , morons with keyboards and the like . The only people worthwhiole reading on the internet are those who have TRUE CREDIBILITY outside the internet as well . Even the "electronic encyclopedia " Wiki , is an editable revisionist piece of garbage .
    EVERYONE"S entitled to their own OPINION , but NOT their own FACTS . A notion alien to this blog and just about all of 'em .At it's best it is entertainment , AMUSEment as it were .

    • aspacia

      Amused, you are one bitter, bit of baggage who recently has contributed zero to the blog. Why not go away?

      • Amused

        If I did ciontribute , then I would have a problem , for the only contributions to this blog from most posters is animus , hatemongering and misinformed bullshheeet . Having fought one war , and being on the planet for 62 years , I easily recognize B.S. when I see it . YOU and those like you are the whiners and handwringers , YOU and your lot are the " bitter and angry men " .Everything you accuse your opponents of , you yourselves have engaged in .
        Sorry if it annoys me , to witness the ADVANCE OF STUPIDITY .All of you scream anbd have tantrums of how you constitutional rights have been taken from you /or will be /or of conspiracies to take away your rights , yet the reality is , that REPUBLICAN are behind all of the attempted legislation to do just that .Ffrom an employer having the right to fire a female for simply using contraceptives to 2 NY Republicans who want anonymity on the internet abolished

        • Amused

          You demand that YOUR morality is superior than everyone elses , you call all who oppose you traitirs . commiunists ,marxists or nazis , and I'll bet half of you dont even know the meaning of those words in the ways you apply them .I could write an essay on HOW it is the Republicans who , if they could , remove constitutiomnal rights with their attempted , half-assssed , idiotic proposed legislation .
          Go away ? No , YOU go away if you can't take the heat , or stand to be criticized .You reject science , you reject all media , what else do you reject ? And please tell me , and enumerate , those alleged constitutional rights that have been " stripped away from you " by the present administration . You morons even reject the rulings of the Supreme Court and threaten nullification . Go take a pill man !

        • aspacia

          First, I am a married, 59 year-old woman, who is not affiliated with any political party! You are stereotyping me, and that is fallacious. I am prochoice, and socially very liberal, but fiscally conservative person who is tired of paying for too many unwed mothers on welfare.

          Most Catholics are Democrats! Martin Luther King was a Republican!

          Again, you are one bitter, bit of baggage who is here to contribute rather than seek solutions.

    • Maxie

      " The inetrnet is infected with frauds , psuedo-science , idiot hackers , hatemongers , scammers ,hacks , morons with keyboards and the like ."

      You're certainly proof of that.

      • Amused

        yea and you're as original as sliced bread .I could have predicted that remark , the only question would be which dolt came up with it first …congrats ……DOLT .

    • Looking4Sanity

      The internet is only "a veritable sewer" because of the presence of people exactly like yourself.

      Now…feel free to continue abusing yourself, you bloody wanker.

      • Amused

        go take a shower dude , you been swimming in it too long .

  • Amused

    While it is true that circulation figures have dropped , that is because newsrags and mags have moved to the internet to accomodate their subscribers , but neither theirs nor anyone elses CREDIBILITY is or has been established on the internet . It is brought to the internet from the real world , where credibility is first established .Any idiot with chump change can put up a website where there's a permanent soapbox from which to spout B.S. , innuendo , aspersion and outright lies . This is a well established FACT . No wonder the outside media is denigrated time and time again , life is more pleasant in the particular echo chamber that agrees with your opinion .What the hell have facts to do with anything .

  • Oleg

    I have never tried reading a copy of the New Yorker but I once tried reading a copy of Esquire magazine maybe 10 or more years ago, even then it was bad and almost unreadable. The article in question had nothing to do with politics or government it was some sort of interview with an entertainer, it was the worst piece of literary diarrhea I have ever read, it made Russian novels look like twitter tweets in comparison. The first two pages of it was discussing such irrelevent topics as what the author had for breakfast that morning and what shade of yellow the neighbor's daffodils were the morning of the interview. About three pages in I put it down and thought "Who buys this crap?" and picked up the nearest copy of Car Craft and reda that instead.
    Time has been completely dumned down like most magazines these days, regardless of content, it's little more then a weekly photo essay interspaced with comments. But this is the problems with most print media and specifically the news media, there is very little investigative reporting anymore, heaven forbid traveling more then a block away from the nearest Starbucks. Lets just take whatever is coming off the A.P or Reuters newswire, rework it a little, submit it to the editor, and cut out the door as soon as 5 o'clock hits so you can meet up with your buddies for happy hour. Why would anyone bother subscribing to a newspaper or magazine that has nothing new to read that has the same headlines as just about every other newspaper or magazine?

  • Jewel

    Wasn't it the journalist MIchael Weisskopf who said, "Christians are largely poor, uneducated and easy to command?" How strangely descriptive of the Manipulators of Perception. They can add, See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil, unless it's about conservatives.

    • Amused

      lol…and the same can be said for you, regarding Democrats . I haven't heard a single peep regarding the obnoxious and moronic legislation Republicans are attempting . But hey facts go down the memory hole around here .

      • Amused

        lolololol….and WHERE would Weisskopf get such an impression ? Lololol ….right here is where . I w.ould beg to differ with him only on "poor "

  • Ralph

    For that matter what would an outer borough blue collar guy care about what goes on in Manhattan? I've lived in Brooklyn and Queens most of my life and never heard anyone I know talk about the latest Broadway play. Most libs in NY come from somewhere else. Some of them are even from Texas. Please, rest of the country, take them back! Effing locusts!

  • topeka


    brilliant column:

    "The real 1 percent is right there. That small elitist fragment of America which writes books for itself, makes TV shows for itself and writes outraged articles for itself about a tiny 1 percent elite that runs everything. It has its own books, its own TV shows, its own music, its own stores, its own stations, its own brands and now it has most of the magazines to itself. It’s a claustrophobic village raising its own inner child with inane repetitions of its narrow-minded views."

    Yes! Exactly! You know these people!

    They live in a different universe where they are terrified of dihydrogen monoxide, "W" and fiscal sanity. And bitter clingers, and Geezus (and sometime Gooo's), and "W" – did I mention him?

    They cannot make it through the day without their meds…

    • Maxie

      Apparently you can't either.

  • Amused

    Oh my oh my …

  • Amused

    lol…give'em a little more time Topeka , they still haven't t gotten it yet . You should have been at atleast a – 25 by now .

  • Looking4Sanity

    Unlike a poorly performing stock, the MSM keeps being propped up by people with more dollars than sense. Free market principles don't apply to the situation.

  • Amused

    Are you people really this stupid ????

  • Roger

    Evidently you are.

  • Looking4Sanity

    I guess we “really” are. Now…are you moronic enough to try to convince us that George Soros' vast storehouses of money AREN'T propping up the liberal media? I believe you are. Good luck with that.