If a church invites Andrew Sullivan to address the congregation one day and Niall Fergusson on another, would you know to which god it prays? To older eyes like mine it feels a little like having the Pope in one day and the local rabbi the nex. OK, so both might arrive bearing a bible, but …. seriously?
So what part does political opinion play in the the brand positioning of a modern news magazine? From the evidence of these three covers you could be forgiven for not being quite certain what Newsweek stands for. But in the war for eyeballs, the only constant is controversy.
I feel a similar dismay to that which struck me about The Guardian recently: like the political figures they comment about, news brands want to control the political centre ground, and be all things to all people in the search for larger online audiences. But the result is the potency and value of their voices become weaker and less distinctive.
Perhaps they do not see it this way, but I sense that the brands which are being enhanced are not the ones on the masthead but rather the those of the authors whose bylines appear on the stories.
“…Make no mistake about what is happening here. Tina Brown is dressing up Ferguson’s failure as a provocation and conversation-starter. The problem is that this is not the kind of conversation Brown means to start.”
[Tom McGovern, Capital wonders whether Tina Brown is serious about Newsweek anymore. Is anybody? ]