Sunday, May 9, 2010

Any magazine that would have me as a reader...

Newsweek is on life support. The Washington Post put the newsweekly up for sale last week and there’s been speculation that it may go the way of U.S. News and World Report, which ended print publication altogether.

Editor Jon Mecham appeared on Reliable Sources this morning to discuss the magazine’s fate. Naturally, he hopes Newsweek continues to exist in something close to its present form. A job is a rare and wonderful thing for print journalists these days.

He also talked about what, at least on the surface, seems like a questionable business plan. Newsweek has actually been trying to cut its circulation in half to deliver a more elite and affluent audience to advertisers. That may seem counterintuitive, but Newsweek probably hopes to reduce production costs and charge advertisers a premium for delivering an audience willing to part with bigger chunks of their disposable income.

Newsweek has doubled its subscription prices, presumably to winnow out the less desirable elements. Like me.

I’ve subscribed to either Time or Newsweek for decades. I’ve switched back and forth between the two several times. I’m well aware that some people perceive Newsweek to have a more liberal slant, but frankly I don’t really see that much difference between the two in terms of political perspective. Time seems “newsier” to me than Newsweek, but I certainly have no empirical data to back up that impression.

I get Time these days for a very mercenary reason. Someone gave me a gift subscription a few years ago. So I didn’t continue Newsweek when my subscription was up. But, now that I think about it, I don’t think they sent me a renewal notice.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I don’t follow you on Twitter.

Nothing personal. I don’t follow anyone on Twitter. Not Ashton Kutcher, Glenn Beck or Shaquille O’Neal. I choose not to keep up with the Kardashians at all, much less on Twitter.

It’s not that I’m anti social media. I blog, though not enough. I use Facebook, probably too much. I use LinkedIn. I actually have a Twitter account, though I’ve yet to tweet, much to no one’s disappointment.

I think I understand Twitter, but I really don’t get it. Who needs to know that Ashton just paid $10 for a vodka tonic at the hotel bar (a real tweet) or that someone I once met at a conference just had a strawberry yogurt? Yum.

Of course I know that there are other kinds of tweets, too. Sometimes tweeters report real news in real time. Articulate people express cogent thoughts in remarkably few syllables. Generous folks share information and insights from conference sessions seconds after the words are spoken. Discerning people recommend articles, books, movies and such that would undoubtedly interest me and enrich my life.

As valuable as these things might be, I don’t have time for them. I already have a TMI (too much information) problem. I cannot begin to absorb, process, understand and use all the information that I choose to receive already via television, e-mail, the Internet, podcasts, books, newspapers, magazines, radio and other sources. It’s all more than my 20th Century brain can handle sometimes and that frustrates me.

I once read about a CEO who was so overwhelmed by the volume of e-mails he received that he occasionally declared “e-mail bankruptcy” by erasing everything in his In Box, with the full confidence that the senders would follow-up on anything that was really important.

I could never do that. But I do erase a lot of subscription and newsletter-style e-mails – some valuable I’m sure – without ever reading them. Magazines I intend to read stack up and sometimes wind up in the recycle bin unopened when I declare “magazine bankruptcy.” I record programs that never get watched and download podcasts that never get heard. I live and work among piles of books I fully intend to read.

So, for now at least, I choose to not subject myself to 140-character messages from friends and colleagues, movie stars and politicians, opinion leaders and industry experts. They would only remind me of all the things I’m missing. Including the vodka tonics and frozen yogurts. Yum.