Betrayed by the Zeitgeist she once channeled, Tina Brown invokes it one last time … On the last day of this year, outliving the universe by 10 days if the Mayan calendar was correct, the print edition of Newsweek will be no more, making the 80-year-old dentist's waiting-room staple the latest in a long line of victims of changing reader habits, the high cost of print and a Darwinian newsstand. In an interview with Michael Kinsley in the Nov. 26 issue of New York magazine, Newsweek editor in chief and magazine legend Tina Brown gave a big-picture reason for the magazine's failure: "[E]very piece of the Zeitgeist was against Newsweek," Brown told Kinsley, a quote so telling, New York's editors even saw fit to tease it on the magazine's cover, the word Zeitgeist framed by inverted commas. – Capital New York
Dominant Social Theme: A great magazine folds and the nation weeps.
Free-Market Analysis: We end this year on a note of good news. Newsweek is no more … at least as a print publication. Far more of a leveling device than TIME magazine, Newsweek was a secondary news channel for US Intel, from what we can tell.
In fact, one could argue that Newsweek's main role was to make the socio-fascist politics of TIME magazine look moderate and thus credible. The United States has been descending into authoritarianism since the Civil War – at least. One could argue that TIME and Newsweek were among the main tools of power elite promotion throughout the 20th century.
It is an especially delicious irony that Newsweek failed under the watch of Tina Brown. A talented editor, she is a walking encyclopedia of elite memes – and a skilled purveyor. Every magazine she has supervised has interlarded elite themes with witty commentary and sexy, provocative commentary. In this way she painlessly distributes the (mostly) fear-based messages that the elites have chosen.
But Newsweek didn't really lend itself to this formula, being a news magazine rather than a feature publication. And as Tina Brown herself pointed out, the Zeitgeist of the times was against her. Here's some more from the article excerpted above:
It's worth going back a bit to the origins of the word. "Zeitgeist," a German coinage translatable to the "Spirit of the Times," is often attributed to Georg Hegel as a kind of rebuke of Thomas Carlyle's "Great Man theory." The age makes the man, not the reverse; the ineluctable spirit of the people produces and is a product of its history and its art. Like "gestalt," "moral majority," "generation gap," and "collective unconscious," which all have their origins in philosophy, psychology, or other specialized branches of the humanities or social sciences, "Zeitgeist" is often tossed around in introductory courses on its way to being abused by marketers, editors, and trend-spotters who are either ignorant of or indifferent to the terms' original meanings.
Ironically the Zeitgeist, by the time a perverted form of the idea reached magazine editors, was a spirit of the times that could be invoked only once it was exhibited by the Great Men and Women, or by Great Epoch-Making Events: Hollywood celebrities, politicians, pop stars, tycoons; big battles, massacres, name-brand political movements and other famous faces and causes fit to catch eyeballs and dollars on the newsstand …
The Zeitgeist, it would seem, betrayed Tina Brown after she spent the last three decades, as editor of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Talk, The Daily Beast and then Newsweek, invoking it weekly or monthly. She packed the word itself in headlines, display copy, and in the bodies of her writers' work constantly. At The New Yorker, Brown found the Zeitgeist in many places as well, in everything from the tales of Bill Clinton to the tale of Joey Buttafuoco. For Brown, the Zeitgeist could be summoned anywhere, from anything that caught her eye during a given week. But with Newsweek, her eye finally faltered. Or the Zeitgeist wasn't where she was used to finding it anymore.
No, it wasn't. More and more people are turning to online information and Newsweek had two strikes against it. First, it was a print publication and second, it was a promotional facility of the elite.
This has proved a lethal combination. Many of the great business and news magazines of the 20th century are no more. Businessweek is an appendage of Bloomberg. Forbes is mostly online. Fortune is an afterthought. US News is more of a directory than a news source. Last we looked, Readers Digest was in bankruptcy.
The power elite now struggles with a robust alternative media that has blown apart most of its dominant social themes from global warming to the war on terror to monopoly fiat central banking itself. The job of its writers and editors – most of whom didn't fully understand what they were doing – was to promote the vision of a frightening world spinning out of control.
The solutions were to feature an ever more centralized global governance led by the UN and supported by financial facilities such as the IMF and World Bank. Out of chaos … order. An international order.
This was a perspective applied successfully in the 20th century; not so much in the 21st.
Tina Brown has labored diligently in the vineyards of the powers-that-be, nonetheless … attempting as best she can to continually instill further fear and loathing on behalf of elites who are determined to press ahead with their world spanning plans despite what we call the Internet Reformation.
But as people learn more about the way the World Really Works, they are increasingly apt to reject – consciously or not – the doom-laden, leveling visions of publications like Newsweek.
We're glad it's gone – at least as a print publication. We won't miss it. You shouldn't, either. Happy holidays.