NEWSWEEK like most print journalism is in a real struggle right now for better circulation. Magazines and newspapers are dropping like flies in this recession. So what does NEWSWEEK do to grab a little attention? Why, it rips off the hip formula of ROLLING STONE and uses an offbeat, but memorable photo of Sarah Palin to grab readers attention and sell some magazines.
The Sarah Palin cover is all the talk right now. If NEWSWEEK ever wanted to get noticed, then it more than succeeded in that goal. Just the cover photo, and not even the writing or opt ed opinion pieces are dominating public discussion right now. If anything, the marketing wizards at NEWSWEEK sought to do something daring to be noticed at the newsstands. And they are indeed being noticed.
But beyond the offbeat cover, NEWSWEEK is far different magazine inside than it once was. It is amazing just how many pages of opt ed opinion pieces you have to page through just to find the main cover story. NEWSWEEK appears to be wanting to be more hip and cool, like a news version of ROLLING STONE, and potentially attract some younger readers by looking cool and trendy. I'm not sure if that hip face-lift will work or not. But still the magazine is a far different NEWSWEEK than I once knew.
The long Sarah Palin piece did have some important thoughts in it. One of the most vital was the comparison with Barry Goldwater. Is Sarah Palin a populist cult following type of candidate who is so unelectable that she only promises to ruin the Republican Party in the 2012 election if she wins the GOP nomination? Yet, I seriously doubt that even GOP voters would nominate such a silly candidate as Palin. There are far more serious and capable candidates than this one who didn't even serve out one entire term as governor of Alaska before quitting for some sort of screwy and convoluted set of reasons that I still haven't quite figured out. But the cover of NEWSWEEK is also right in pointing out that Sarah Palin is a real problem for the Republican Party. She does little to restore faith or respect for that party with her constant sideshow. And the more public and outrageous she is, the worst it is for the Republican brand image. For what few GOP voters she attracts, she no doubt turns off 2 or more serious voters far more likely to vote. That's hardly a fair trade-off.
Even die-hard supporters of President Obama, like Oprah Winfrey realize how really harmless Sarah Palin is to their president. Oprah did no harm to the president at all by showcasing Sarah Palin on Monday's show. Palin is a kook and goofball foremost, and lastly a serious political figure. In fact, the more public exposure of Palin, the more she becomes seen as the leader of the Republican Party, which helps President Obama and the Democrats, and only worsens Republican odds of a comeback in 2010 and 2012.
But both Oprah and NEWSWEEK recognize that Palin has enough supporters that she draws attention and ratings or sells magazines. Her book signing yesterday in Michigan had huge lines waiting to buy a copy or to meet the candidate. And Palin is toying with the notion of hosting a talk show( you only have to wonder how long that will last before she quits that gig). Why this outrageous know-nothing is this popular defies real explanation. She has a poor grasp of economics, history, and even politics. Quiting the role as governor of Alaska was hardly a confidence building career move.
But NEWSWEEK did better itself by hitching itself onto Sarah's star this week. For no good reason at all, Palin draws lots attention. And NEWSWEEK could sure use the boost in sales.