Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

U.S. News & World Report Leaves the News Race to Time, Newsweek

Once upon a time, U.S. News & World Report tried positioning itself as a competitor to Newsweek and Time. But those days are long gone: Now the publication is best known as a publisher of lists.

So this report from the New York Times makes perfect sense:

Just five months after saying it would drop its frequency to every other week, U.S. News & World Report has decided instead to become a monthly magazine, employees said on Tuesday.

Less than a year ago, U.S. News still published weekly, but this year it began publishing less often, and in June, it announced that, come January, it would publish every two weeks. Executives conceded then that the magazine had ceased to be a newsweekly competing directly with Time and Newsweek.”

This may be dispiriting for U.S. News staffers who thought they were working for a news organization, but it makes plenty of sense as a business decision.

Lists, like the publication’s well-regarded education rankings, do well both in print and online, and are easy to sell to advertisers. And being the third player in a category where your competitors are getting crushed anyway is no place to be.

Bear in mind that Newsweek and Time have relatively deep-pocketed parent companies–the Washington Post Co. (WPO) and Time Warner (TWX), respectively–to help the titles as they try to survive. U.S. News relies on real estate biggie Mort Zuckerman, who has bigger worries these days.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work