In simpler era, the newsweeklies ruled the U.S. media roost. Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report broke stories and often had the definitive word on important issues. Their choices of which faces to place on their covers made news.
But first cable television, then the Internet, brought us the 24/7 news cycle. A key pivot point in the transition from old to new involved Newsweek and its decision to withhold a story about President Clinton's affair with a White House intern, which was subsequently leaked to the Drudge Report.
The newsweeklies have been losing their place in the media hierarchy ever since, to the point that there's now an utter disconnect between the concept of "news" and "weekly." In this context, today's reports that U.S. News will be cutting back its publishing schedule to a biweekly status next year is hardly a surprise.
Like Time and Newsweek, U.S. News has been losing circulation, ad pages, and revenue. Something had to give.
By halving the number of print issues it has to publish, U.S. News will encounter a number of interesting content choices. Like all media companies, it will deliver its news online. That leaves a couple of options for the print product. It might be time to resurrect the magazine's investigative unit, or a popular genre of fiction from a way bygone era -- the serial. Freed of the pressure to produce so much new content, magazines have a chance to return to their roots over a century ago, when the muckrakers and story-tellers mesmerized their audiences.