Why I love The Week
: The Week is a magazine born of the Web era.
It is a weblog on paper, a brilliant weblog at that. The only problem is, paper doesn’t come with links.
For me, the appeal of The Week is the same as that of weblogs: These people read the news, all the news, from all over the world, so I don’t have to. They find the best. They discover the things I didn’t discover. They give it to me in quick, witty, pithy bits. They know I’m busy. They also know I’m smart.
This is not like the magazines that came before it. Time and Newsweek stopped summarizing the news decades ago; now they thirst to break news and when they don’t, they turn current events into news for dummies, so well pasturized and homogenized and smoothed out that it might as well be frozen yogurt (vanilla). Reader’s Digest is the magazine our grandparents read because they didn’t like to read.
On the other hand, The Week, like the Web, recognizes that there is a tremendous wealth of information out there that we just don’t have the time (though we do have the intelligence and need) to absorb. So it helps us by finding the best reports and not only summarizing them but also quoting them; it doesn’t try to be smooth like Time and put everything in its voice and under the umbrella of its authority; it repackages the best sources in media and relies on their authority. This, I believe, is a new form of news packaging inspired by the Web and we’ll see more of it. The Week is just leading the way.
I am little surprised I’m saying all this. When my colleague Joe said he was dying to see this magazine before it was launched, I rolled my eyes; the thing sounded cheesey: news lite. But I respect Joe and so I gave The Week a chance and soon became an addict.
It’s useful and informative, provocative and entertaining.
Felix Dennis, the publisher, says it is designed to give you “all you need to know about everything that matters” and do it in an hour and 10 minutes a week. What’s amazing is that it succeeds.
I start each week reading the editor’s note; I can’t say that about any other editor’s note (and I used to have to write them). This one is only two graphs long, about as long as a good blog post. Short is good. That’s what I said when I started Entertainment Weekly: It’s harder and smarter to write short. And every week, The Week Editor William Falk shows it.
Next I read the magazine’s one-page briefing — its backgrounder — on a major story of each week. Sometimes, I miss the beginning of a big story and then I’m too embarrassed to ask about what I missed and newspapers too often don’t fill me in. The Week takes a topic like Kashmir and explains how everybody got in this pickle concisely and smartly and after reading this one well-packaged page, I’m up to speed. It’s a fine service.
Then I read summaries of other major stories with important reporting and commentary from papers around the world.
Next: On three pages, the magazine gives us short squibs on the major stories in countries around the world.
Then I turn to the best columns, letters to the editor, editorial, and editorial cartoons.
I read the best of gossip: “It must be true… I read it in the tabloid.”
I read summaries of current reporting on business, science, health, and sports. I read short features on travel, food, and shopping. I read summaries of reviews of books, plays, movies, and music.
And I always lust after pictures of posh homes for sale around the world ($3.995 million for a nice joint in McLean, Va.).
The Week does all this and more in just 40 pages (only six of them ads).
And it does all this with a tiny staff, the size of which should be the envy of every magazine executive in the country. The masthead of The Week is a marvel of efficiency.
My only criticisms: The magazine is near-impossible to find on newsstands. The design is too British (this is a spin-off of the British publication) and might put off American readers. And it might as well not have a web site. I fear these things limit its growth.
I’m writing all this because I’ve seen that some bloggers are curious about The Week and others haven’t even seen it.
So go looking for it. It is a magazine a blogger should like.