Friday, September 5, 2008

Us Weekly Magazine? Who Reads This Rag?

This post is not about politics. It's about "journalism".

I personally don't consider rags such as Us Weekly or People Magazine or the National Enquirer to be "journalism", but apparently some people do. Sadly, this fact just serves to point out the "stupidification" of the US population these days.

"What did you do yesterday?"

"Oh, I just stayed home and read."

"Good book?"

"No, Us Weekly Magazine."


Magazines certainly serve their purpose. Oddly though, if I'm reading a magazine article, I actually want it to be true. It's just a quirk of mine. Or, if it's opinion, I like it to be stated as such.

I actually used to subscribe to People Magazine. I like to read while I'm eating, and it's difficult to read a book and eat at the same time. So, a little light fluff with one's meal isn't a crime.

I stopped subscribing once I realized that I didn't know any of the people they were writing about. I think they sort of "invented" celebrities, and then tried to get people to care about them. Well, I didn't.

Did you ever thumb through an Us Weekly magazine at the checkout counter? It's almost all pictures! It's as if they don't think their readers can understand words more complicated than "the" and "it".

Well, live and let live, I say. If you want to "read" (or "look at") Us Weekly, it's your dollar. But, unfortunately, good old publisher Jann Wenner (my old friend and yours) just couldn't manage to limit his heaving left-wing fervor to his "music" magazine, Rolling Stone. No, he had to go after the general grocery-buying public, and smear Governor Sarah Palin with this magazine cover:

Us Weekly Cover

Wow. Classy.

What are the "babies, lies & scandal", you ask?

Well, let's hear from an editor at Us Weekly, interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Fox News (thank God for Fox News!)

The guy does seem to stumble over his words a lot. But, if you get past his extreme discomfort in trying to respond to Megyn's questions, you eventually get to his bottom line: the magazine "didn't have time" in the article to clarify the scurrilous headline that was splashed across the Us Weekly cover.

Dang. I hate that. I hate it when I run out of time. That often happens to me when my boss asks me to write up a document to present at a meeting. I end up just giving her whatever I had time to write. Sometimes I don't even have time to complete a sentence. It just sort of stops abruptly. She doesn't mind. I just tell her I ran out of time.

So, you might wonder, was there any fallout from this whole debacle? Seems so:

Angry Readers Dump Us Magazine Over Palin

And this comes from that bastion of objectivity, MSNBC!

An excerpt:

Five thousand might not seem like a large number at first glance, but it’s significant in the context of Us’s printing schedule. The magazine goes to press Monday night, which means subscribers don’t receive their issues until Friday or Saturday. In other words, the cancellations are coming from subscribers who, in many cases, haven’t even gotten their hands on the actual issue.

“When Us went to print Monday night, it looked like the ticket was falling apart," says one magazine editor. “They went to print thinking Palin was dead in the water, and their mistake was thinking everyone who reads Us is a Democrat, when they’re not. Readers are loyal, but the base of a political party is more loyal. They don’t need to read the magazine when there’s so much press around it to know to be upset.”

Upset might be an understatement: One Us advertiser has admitted that they’ve received calls from angry former subscribers threatening to boycott their products. “(Us publisher) Jann Wenner supports Obama, Wenner media decided to follow the buzz around Palin before her speech, and now subscribers feel like a vote has been cast on their behalf," says another magazine editor. “It’s going to be tough to bounce back from this one. Especially if the advertisers get involved. If they get nervous, that can hurt all of us.”

Wow, can you imagine the fallout if this actually hurts the sales of Us Weekly?? What a blow for "journalism".

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