Thursday, July 23, 2009

Comparing America's Top 2 News Magazines: Time and Newsweek Broken Down

These two covers, both taken from the same week, tell a whole lot about this battle.

Time Magazine, the often quoted, well-respected news magazine that just about every businessperson reads. And Newsweek, the not-so-often quoted, not-so-respected, often forgotten, but still considerably well-read news magazine. In this sort of a battle, we almost always, automatically say that Time is quite a bit better than Newsweek. However, don't be so quick; Useful Crap has formulated 7 criteria to evaluate the quality of news of these two prominent United States magazines. This means that how well-designed the magazine is, how good the paper feels, how cluttered the site is, how appealing the logo is and how affordable the subscription is, don't count towards determining who's better in this examination. So let's get started:

1. Conciseness

While Time's articles extend on and on and on, Newsweek's rarely exceed two pages. You may say that detail is a good thing but sometimes, you simply want to get to the point and I often find myself taking a peak at how many pages are left to read in some of Time's articles while I know Newsweek can pack quite a bit into the few paragraphs that are used. In addition, Time has a habit of burying the lead; in other words, making people wait to find the main point while Newsweek is much more succinct. So if conciseness is the game then Newsweek takes the cake.

Time: 0 Newsweek: 1

A somewhat surprising start; let's see if Newsweek will hold on.

2. The Intrigue Factor

There isn't much of a question of who wins in this battle. Although Newsweek makes a decent case for itself with a few small special reports, a new "Conventional Wisdom" poll and a highlight on opinion-based pieces, Time easily triumphs. The latter produces plenty of lengthy specials all pleasantly titled as well as articles that are more fascinating in the nature of the topic (who doesn't want to read about Bush and Cheney's last days?) and the always entertaining Best and Worst Lists

Time: 1 Newsweek: 1

One of these magazines will really make a run for it now. Let's see which one.

3. Importance of News

Ah, what else can be faulted of Newsweek but it's notorious track record of reporting more on insignificant side-news than anything else. These days, while Time spits out articles regarding stem cells and Obama's health care plan, Newsweek is lulling on why Britney Spears is good for you. So what can I say, when you're closely affiliated with CNN, the most trusted name in news (as Time Magazine is), who can fault you one what you cover?

Time: 2 Newsweek: 1

Hey, don't rule good ol' Newsweek out yet.

4. Range/Variety

This has to be the most obvious one. One glance at the link bars on the top of both Time and Newsweek's websites and you'll see what you need to know. Time has sections regarding the U.S., World, Politics, Biz and Tech, Health and Science, Entertainment, Travel as well as People. On the other hand, Newsweek shies in comparison, with only the first five. But that's not the whole story. Newsweek essentially limits itself to those five topics while just peering at Time's homepage will show you that right beside each other are three articles: "Puppies Behind Bars", "Apollo 11's Next Giant Leap", and "Asia's Easy Money Bubble Fueling New Bubbles".

Time: 3 Newsweek: 1

Just like its parent company's (The Washington Post) neighbourhood baseball team, Newsweek is losing again.

5. Quality of Journalism

Despite Time's massive workforce that pumps out the most-read articles day after day, you have to give credit to Newsweek for its efforts. With a smaller workforce, Newsweek actually has recruited some of the better journalists who are dwelling in the shadows. If you actually decide to tune into Newsweek for a little while, you'll probably find their more opinion-based articles a lot more stimulating and entertaining, even if they concern generally petty subjects. Time's articles are packed with hard facts that are tough to remember but Newsweek might actually be fun to read. Not to mention the conciseness.

Time: 3 Newsweek: 2

6. Graphics

This is really tough one; but the final question that it came down to was: "Do photos truly contribute to the insights of the actual article?" And I say, no. Time Magazine not only includes good articles but some of the best photos out there as well. They make news beautiful. But of course, that doesn't count. Time does come out with cool graphics and this might be controversial, but I think that Newsweek wins this battle. "News/Week" a bar at the bottom of every Newsweek page is one of the most useful and innovative things I've seen on a website. It's quite simple but very effective, highlighting the most important articles in every section for every day in a convenient interface. Many other little things put Newsweek ahead in this department as well.

Time: 3 Newsweek: 3

7. Depth

So it all boils down to this. The depth. But there's really no contest here, unfortunately. While Newsweek is concise and easy-to-read, Time is a lot more in-depth. Simply compare the number of special reports and you'll see. Compare the number of videos, the number of photos, the number of pages in each article. And you'll see how much more detail-oriented Time is.

Time: 4 Newsweek: 3

So it was a good battle, but in the end, the victor was the more popular and more powerful, Time Magazine. Even after its complete re-invention, Newsweek falls short in a number of key categories. Time has brute force on its side with the amount of money it is able to spend on its quality. Newsweek doesn't have this privelege. And CNN is a good asset as well while the general mission of Time Magazine seems to be quite a bit better.
Still, they are both insightful news magazines and it may even take other factors to decide on your preference.

1 comment:

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