‘Go woke, get broke’: Experts say magazine industry in a ‘death spiral’ over politics, changing habits

The fall of institutions is always cause for reflection, but it has been hard to keep up in recent years with changes to the American way of life coming fast and furious. One major change is how Americans access news and information. In addition to newspapers, magazines were an integral part of our societal fabric for more than a century. But the genre is quickly becoming passé.

“What magazine industry? Twenty-five years ago, the big three were TIME, Newsweek and U.S. News. Today one is gone, and the other two are irrelevant leftist rags best used to line parakeet cages,” Media Research Center president Brent Bozell told Fox News.

“There is no turning back,” said Fox News contributor, Joe Concha. “This is a death spiral for the magazine industry.”

If you are past a certain age, you can remember waiting eagerly to get the next issue of your favorite periodical. Then you’d devour it, maybe even removing a few clippings you thought would make a good keepsake or something to share with a friend.

Now, it is hardly news to anyone that people get their information on their phones these days, as they flip through headlines at online websites or just scroll through their Facebook feeds.

Consumer habits are not the only change we’ve seen. As Bozell points out, magazine publishers have changed, too, affecting content and style. This has contributed to the downward trend magazines have seen, as they lose their influential place in the culture.

Liberal from its beginnings in 1923, TIME magazine abandoned all pretense of fairness during the Trump presidency. Coverage of Clinton and Obama was always favorable, even ignoring their foibles and failed policies. Coverage of Biden has been pollyannish, painting him as things he is not – tough and shrewd – while ignoring his ineptitude and obvious decline.

By contrast, the editors consistently mocked President Trump, putting pictures of him on the cover with his hair on fire or blending his face with Vladimir Putin’s, to name just two examples.

On the issues, TIME has been increasingly ideological, as their recent piece on Maia Kobabe, author of “Gender Queer,” proved. They were mocked for the interview and for their use of her pronouns (e/em/eir) in her description.

Concha said he used to “revere” TIME and its annual “Man of the Year” issue.

“I was kind of a dork in my teens and my twenties, but ‘Man of the Year,’ they used to call it ‘Man of the Year,’ I actually looked forward to that and would read that particular profile word for word,” Concha told Fox News.

Concha also noted that the magazine used to be thicker: “That I remember most, and now I see it, and it’s just a shell of itself, and I don’t even mean in terms of quantity, I mean in terms of quality. It’s gone so far to the left.”

GQ is legendary in its wokeness. They have gone so far as to hire far-left ranter Keith Olbermann for an anti-Trump video series. “It’s a classic case of ‘Go woke, get broke,” said Concha.

Michelle Malkin wrote in June that even the formerly popular children’s magazine “Highlights” went woke.

In today’s periodicals, one regularly sees puff pieces on AOC, Liz Cheney, Beto O’Rourke, and “first lady for us all” Jill Biden. Just try to find a favorable or even fair portrayal of Trump, Gov. Ron De Santis or Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Or an expose on Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Even Sports Illustrated has people noticing a leftward lurch and even an impulse to ruin its swimsuit issue.

Vanity Fair has become hopelessly woke and irrelevant, as it sticks slavishly to the left on every issue.

“I love magazines, but it’s a depressing graveyard … just no reason for them anymore,” one anonymous industry insider told Fox News. “Despite there being some excellent long-form talent out there now, the top magazines are just shadows of what they used to be. The New Yorker, which used to be a must-read, is incredibly boring.

“Sometimes there’s nothing good in an entire issue,” continued the executive. “Vanity Fair died by wokeness. Probably the best magazine out there now, article for article, is New York magazine, and not sure how long it will survive. It’s all very sad.”

Another magazine that enjoyed decades of prestige, Newsweek has had to change stories (10 times just this month) and issue corrections (30 in August, 26 in July), according to its own website.

Magazines still greet us in line at the grocery store, but how much longer will that continue? Our attention spans are long enough to look at headlines and glance at pictures while standing in line, but not to buy the magazine and read the articles. But when you are standing in line, are people looking at those magazines at all? Or are they looking at their phones?

Circulation continues to spiral downward for the top 75 magazines in America, dropping by 9.1% as of June 2021, compared to June 2022, according to Alliance for Audited Media. That number adds to the already steep decline in the past 20 years, as the industry failed to evolve effectively in the digital age.

Fourth Watch editor Steve Krakauer judges the industry’s prospects negatively.

“The entire legacy media is in trouble overall, for reasons both in its control and outside of it,” he told Fox News. “In some ways, the magazine industry is a victim of the overall changing habits of its audience — going more digital and finding more specialized and niche routes to get the information and entertainment they want and need. I used to subscribe to about five magazines and newspapers, now I get one in the mail.”


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