Thursday, July 26, 2012

Newsweek to Become Online Only

In the newsweekly world, there were always three main options – Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report.  Growing up, Newsweek was the magazine of choice in our house and I usually read it from cover to cover.

Over the years, I lost interest in the magazine due largely to its emphasis on what I considered puff pieces.  Even their in-depth articles over the years evolved from a focus on economic analysis and the stories behind scientific breakthroughs to more recent cover stories on the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and assorted personality profiles of politicians.  The articles seemed more intent on what the subjects ate for breakfast than on their true accomplishments or contributions to society at large.

It would appear that I was not alone.  Like many other print media, Newsweek suffered a long and ugly decline in readership and advertising revenue.  The iconic publication was eventually acquired in 2010 from Washington Post Co. by 92-year-old Sidney Harman for $1 and the assumption of liabilities.  He has since passed away, and now Newsweek is owned by IAC/InteraActiveCorp, which is chaired by Barry Diller. 

Mr. Diller has a long track record as an executive at motion picture studios, television networks and cable networks.  His biggest success, arguably, was in home shopping on cable television.  Today, his IAC company counts as holdings Newsweek and Daily Beast, though it has been reported that the company generates its largest share of revenue from and

To news junkies everywhere, Mr. Diller’s portfolio says it all.  In its own company Newsweek is now second banana to a dating Web site.

This week, Barry Diller told analysts during his earnings conference call that in order to stem financial losses at Newsweek, a “transition to online from hard print will take place.”  This means that for financial, not strategic reasons, Newsweek will eventually become an electronic, rather than print publication.  It would have been more encouraging to learn that this had more to do with a strategic vision for the future of media rather than simply a reactionary move to cut budget.

This development begs a number of other questions centered on relevancy.  Does Newsweek’s name make sense anymore?  Will the publication return to a news focus as opposed to trying to compete with tabloid sensationalism?  Since it will be online, does it need to be a “news weekly?” Perhaps most importantly, since its marketing strategy will have to refocus on attracting online visitors rather than supermarket shoppers, how will its editorial content and packaging change?  And what do online news consumers really want from a source like Newsweek?

These are questions for the publisher, editors and even the sales and marketing staff at Newsweek.  As for the rest of us, we will likely continue to change our own media consumption habits, relying more on electronic sources and less on those delivered to us via paper and ink media.  I just hope that while the delivery systems may change, the number of well-staffed news rooms remains strong.  I don’t think being a webmaster for would be a good prerequisite for someone charged with bringing us the latest business news from Wall Street or other places far and wide.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Thomas Jefferson's Greatest Piece of Writing

In honor of this week’s celebration of Independence Day, I thought I’d simply post one of the greatest pieces of writing I’ve ever seen -  The Declaration of Independence.

In Congress, July 4, 1776
A Declaration
By the Representatives of the
United States of America,
In General Congress Assembled

WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness - That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.

HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.

HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.

HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.

HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offenses:

FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:

FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

HE has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

IN every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence.  They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to Levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Signed by ORDER and in BEHALF of the CONGRESS,