TIME Magazine — not your parents magazine anymore

Almost thirty years ago, just after college, I got a summer job in a hospital administrative office, filling in for a gal who was on maternity leave.  One of the guys in charge of that office looked, to my fevered young eyes, just like Tom Selleck.  He wasn’t very nice, he wasn’t very educated, and he wasn’t very bright, but he sure looked good.  Naturally, I was always delighted when he joined in a conversation to which I was a party.  I remember that about him.

And I remember one other thing.  I was talking to an office mate, and I mentioned an article in TIME Magazine, a copy of which was always lying around my parents’ house.  (My dad got discount subscriptions through the teacher’s union.)  The Tom Selleck look alike turned to me with something approximating a sneer twisting under that big 80s style mustache, and said “TIME Magazine?  That conservative rag?  You need to read Newsweek.”

Looking back, the first thing that makes me laugh is that someone would think he was showing his intellectual chops by boasting that he read Newsweek, not time.  Such is life, I guess, when you’re the male equivalent of a dumb blond. The other thing that’s laughable is that he considered TIME “conservative.”  Of course, this was San Francisco in the 1980s so, even for guys pretending to be Tom Selleck (a true conservative, bless his heart), TIME was untenable.

The thing that’s really weird, though, when I resurrect that memory, is to realize how completely things have changed.  Back in those days, every middle and working class family I knew (except for the Chinese ones, because of the language barrier) had TIME or Newsweek, or both.  Those magazines shaped the middle class view of the political scene in ways its almost impossible to comprehend nowadays.  Every week, those magazines told us what to think, complete with great pictures.  TIME had occupied that role for roughly 50 years, and Newsweek for almost that long.

Today, Newsweek, after being sold for $1, is a small little opinion magazine that no one reads.  And TIME is still struggling on as a regular sized opinion magazine that (a) tries to pretend it’s actual journalism and (b) that no one reads.  Fine.  That’s business.  You ignore your market, you die.

But what makes TIME’s decline truly execrable is that, as it sinks into the bottom tier of the media muck, it’s garbed itself in the one garment to all Left wing bottom feeders:  antisemitism.  This antisemitism, typically, is masked as anti-Israel sentiment, but we all know the difference.  When you relentlessly demonize a state that is functionally equal to or much better than most other nations, you have to look at what makes that state stand out from the nations being given a pass.  And if the one unique feature is that state’s Jewishness — well, bingo!  There’s your answer.  TIME is working on replacing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as profitable reading material.

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  • jj

    Oh, I think millions and millions and millions of us got along fine without Time or Newsweek to “tell us what to think.”  Possibly I’m from a weird corner of the universe, but, quite the converse of your experience, I never knew – and still don’t know – anyone who subscribed to either one.  I’m lucky in my close friends, I still have the same four (3 male, 1 female) I had when I was – literally – five years old, and in who’s homes I grew up practically as much as I did in my own.  Never saw either magazine in a house – they were doctor/dentist office reading in my life.
    I wonder why that is.  No idea.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    I think you were indeed lucky.  It might also have had to do with the immigrant mentality.  Without exception, every kid I knew was a first generation.  The parents who came from the educated classes in Europe found TIME and Newsweek to be helpful means of understanding America.

  • suek

    In my house, it was Reader’s Digest.  And I continued my subscription for a very large part of my married adult life.  Then they started getting very “lefty” in their articles.  I learned they’d been sold, and apparently, so had their views.  I haven’t subscribed for probably 15-20 years now.  And I miss it – at least what it _used_ to be.  Nat Geo as well, by the way.
    And as a further “by the way” I was _very_ surprised to learn that Reader’s owns and publishes “Taste of Home”, and “Handyman” – both of which are very apolitical and skill based magazines.  I was even more surprised to learn that “The Handyman” had been in publication since sometimes in the 50s.   I’d never heard of it till I ran across some in my Freecycle group, and did some research.  Then I bought a bunch of oldies but goodies for my sons.

  • Charles Martel

    I grew up in a blue-collar household, so our tastes ran to Saturday Evening Post, Look, Coronet, True the Man’s Magazine, and St. Anthony Messenger.

    Fortunately. my mom was an avid reader, so I picked up her habit and a library card very early in life. Still, Time and Newsweek never figured much in my scheme of things.

    I have an ultra-liberal friend—we agree never to discuss politics—who still subscribes to Newsweek. (He’s also an avid NYT reader.) I have to say that when I see the magazine at his house, I actually feel embarrassed for him. I would never say a thing, but I almost pity him for thinking that his attachment to such a dreadfully clueless yet pompous publication brings him real intellectual sustenance.

  • Gringo

    As an indication of how times have changed, recall Clair Boothe Luce, wife of Time founder Henry Luce. She served  four years as Representative for CT-4 [Fairfield County] in Congress. She remained active in conservative politics. No left winger, she.
    My parents subscribed to Time, Harper’s, and Atlantic Monthly.

  • Libby

    I haven’t read TIME or Newsweek in over a decade. Unfortunately, there’s now a TIME for Kids mini-magazine that my son reads in class (2nd grade). The first issue he brought home focused on healthy eating, complete with word of wisdom from Michelle Obama – gag!. Guess they have to troll for younger subscribers to make up for the loss in adult readers.


    I recall LIFE magazine and National Geographic in my parent’s home.
    Below,  a reader from the AT link, which summarizes with a quote and comment of his own worth remembering.
    Jan 14, 10:54 AM

    I carried mail for 36 years. When I started in 1971 newsweekly magazine subscribers numbered 1/3 to1/2 of total residential deliveries. When I retired that number had dwindled to less than a dozen on my route of 370. They blamed it on generational lack of interest and changes in reading habits. The facts are liberal journalists pissed off the older readers and the younger ones read People, Oprah, Shape, Self, and which ever publication tracks their favorite pastime; running, mountain bikes, etc. The newsweekly format of old will soon follow the picture story format into oblivion. The interest is gone and the cachet of the byline with it. And the staff at Time will only accelerate their demise by sensationalizing content and injecting themselves and own interests in it. But American (?) Journalism jumped the shark back in the early 70’s. The day Van Gordon Sauter retired from CBS News he was out in front of black rock drunk. A camera crew from ABC pulled up with film rolling asked him if he told the truth. “Hell no.” he said. “We give them what we want them to have.” Today there is nothing the MSM hates more than a sober viewer with a long memory.

  • Mike Devx

    The decline of print journalism is primarily due to the rise of electronic media, which has made of it a dinosaur with only niche appeal.  The decline is a long, slow process, but inevitable.  The only question is, how will print journalism go into that dark night?  Gently, with grace, or with endless spoiled raging tantrums?  They’re choosing the latter; and because the vast majority of those running the newspapers and periodicals are liberal, they’re pandering to their liberal niche audience.  By abandoning half the country, this guarantees that their disappearance will go faster.  Conservatives rightly abandoned them years ago; now the independents are engaged in that long, slow divorce.  When only liberals remain, and the vast majority of them also keep slowly moving to electronic media, the death knell will sound.
    What’s interesting to me is what’s happening in TV media.  Because we’re a center-right country, Fox News regularly beats all the other cable news outlets combined.  Which tells you that the other cable news outlets have a news slant focused to the Left.  They’re all splitting a smaller audience.  You’d think they’d move to the center, but they refuse to.  The only reason is that they are all primarily Leftist in their politics, and simply CANNOT move to the center.  A competitor to FOX for the center-right audience should already have arisen!  The fact that it hasn’t tells us much about how far to the Left those who control the media are.
    Well, the American people continue to slowly wake up to this.  The outrageousness of the tsunami of media attacks on conservatism following the Arizona shootings is another nail in this coffin.  It will only accelerate the center’s slow abandonment of the electronic liberal media.  And that’s a very good thing.  It will then be interesting to see how the mainstream media plays the 2012 elections.  I anticipate more of the same.  Given Obama’s vast coffers of money – he’s shooting for a 1 billion dollar campaign – with the aid of the liberal media he’ll be in a potentially strong position.  But the aftereffects of even such a win – should he win – will be an even faster eventual abandonment of the liberal electronic media by the center.  It’s a long, slow process, this abandonment by the center, but it is happening.  Based on the last two weeks, those in the Leftist electronic media seem determined to speed it up!

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    When a bunch of Leftists took over newspapers, it declined. When a bunch of Leftists took over higher education, it declined.
    Notice a pattern yet here?

  • stanley

    And when the left took over government…here we are. Now I expect the left will re-invent itsel  into facism, the next step in imposing equality on people who by nature do not want to be equal.


    Notice a pattern yet here?
    Sure do.
    Housing/Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and 2011 expected to be worse than 2010
    Auto/Cash for clunkers and the Chevy Oy GeVolt

    Health care/They don’t care

  • Mike Devx

    Ymar, Stanley, Sadie (9,10,11),
    Your points bring us to the Great American Cognitive Dissonance.
    The article linked below depresses me, because it means Americans, on the whole, STILL want to have their cake and eat it too.  It shows just how difficult it is going to be for conservatives to cut spending.
    Americans overwhelmingly say they want to cut spending, not raise taxes, to balance the yearly deficit, and reduce the national debt.  But when asked which programs they would cut, they can hardly name ANYTHING.
    When presented with specific choices, they accept a FEW of them, but not many, and nowhere near enough to make any difference whatsoever.
    Any conservative attempt to cut spending enough to make a difference may mean Americans will just kick us out of office.
    Our budget last year was ONE-THIRD paid by increasing the debt.  One Third of the budget!!!
    I just don’t see any hope until more Americans agree that we simply must get government out of so many areas where it has no business being.  That’s the only way we can recover and avoid doom.
    Until Americans get serious about slashing spending, I just don’t see any hope.


    Mike Devx
    The problem with the poll were the options/choices. I am sure if CBS was seriously looking for areas that we could agree on, they would have included: elimination of government involvement in mortgages, bailing out private industry and pork projects for starters. One half of America is paying for the other half that is receiving benefits and this includes my personal pet peeve – single mothers (NBM’s) never been married.

  • http://ruminationsroom.wordpress.com Don Quixote

    The current Reader’s Digest uses freedom of religion to argue for the Ground Zero mosque with the following sentence in the concluding paragraph of the six-page article:  “From the Islamic perspective, freedom to worship is part of the divine plan.”  In which Muslim-dominated countries is this divine plan implemented?  Unbelievable.


    DQ – Jan. 2005 Reader’s Digest (two pages)

    My, my … only six years later and the ‘alternate universe of  a divine plan’ takes six pages.

  • MacG

    Time and Newsweek every year around Easter they will dedicate some pages to the Bible and how Jesus never said all those words in red or Jesus “The Historical Jesus” or “What Jesus Looked Like” or whatever they can do to show that we who beleive are stuck in myth (from their point of view) so I take them to be left leaning anyway afterall these are “educated” articles are lamps unto our feet “enlightening” us all out in the darkness the valley of Faith. ;/

    I will never forget though something a friend told me that he overheard in line at Safeway when Bill Clinton was TIME’s man of the year.  They had placed Clinton’s head over the word TIME in such a way that it occluded much of the bottom portion of the ‘M’.  To which an observant 5 year old asked his mom “Mommy? Why are there horns on that man”s head?”  How apropos for perhaps the horniest president ever.