There was a time when eagerly anticipating the mailman’s arrival to drop off beloved periodicals was a key facet of American culture, but a change in consumption habits and perceived liberal agendas have resulted in a “death spiral for the magazine industry,” according to media watchdogs.
“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 Digital.
Indeed, U.S. News & World report stopped publishing hard copies, and essentially lost its relevancy in the process, in 2010. TIME and Newsweek, on the other hand, are still around, but many consider them a shell of their former selves as their influence and place in the cultural zeitgeist dwindles.
TIME, already known for its liberal slant, spent years mocking former-President Trump with a variety of disparaging cover images featuring everything from his face melting, his hair on fire, him towering over a migrant child, and him drowning in the Oval Office. The same magazine blended Trump’s face with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of a summit between the world leaders and went on to publish a flattering image of President Biden wearing sunglasses ahead of his meeting with Putin. Earlier this month, TIME was ridiculed when reporter Madeleine Carlisle interviewed Maia Kobabe over the controversy surrounding the book “Gender Queer,” and used “e/em/eir pronouns” to describe the author.
Fox News contributor Joe Concha used to be an avid TIME reader.
“I revered, 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 Digital.
TIME changed the once-lofty honor to Person if the Year in 1999 to be more inclusive, but Concha has noticed others changes, too.
“It used to be so much thicker,” he said. “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.”
Another magazine that has turned Concha off because of its politics is GQ, which famously hired former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann to host a far-left, anti-Trump video series.
“It’s just gone completely off the rails,” Concha said “When you hire Keith Olbermann, that’s a problem, right?”
The magazine industry even plays favorites when it comes to fashion, as Melania Trump was famously snubbed only to see “First Lady for all of us” Jill Biden land the cover of Vogue, and GQ recently fawned over Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
Concha is a passionate sports fan, but feels Sports Illustrated has also gone “woke,” and didn’t even notice when ESPN the Magazine ceased paper publishing in 2019.
“It’s a classic case of ‘go woke, get broke,’” he said.
A longtime media executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of friends in the industry called the state of magazines “very sad.”
“I love magazines, but it’s a depressing graveyard… just no reason for them anymore,” the executive told Fox News Digital.
“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. Vanity Fair died by wokeness,” the executive continued. “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.”
The once-prestigious Newsweek has been plagued with errors in recent years, having changed 10 different stories in September 2022 alone, according to its own website. In August, Newsweek issued over 30 corrections and the concerning trend has been an ongoing problem for the publication that issued 26 corrections in July.
But not every magazine is losing influence and importance simply because of woke politics or sloppy editing, as many companies have blamed a combination of COVID, poor ad sales or a pivot to digital content for the failure of print publications.
“People are just reading things on phones in such a fast-food manner. They’re getting their news from Twitter or from a Facebook post, and a lot of people just don’t have the patience anymore to read the big, long profile or feature or investigative report,” Concha said. “So, it’s as much on the readers as it is on the magazines… but there is no turning back. This is a death spiral for the magazine industry.”
A plethora of other magazines have shuttered their print editions in recent memory, including EatingWell, Entertainment Weekly, Health, In Style, Martha Stewart Living, OK! Weekly, Parents and Shape.
“It’s always been my philosophy that when you’re through changing, you’re through,” Martha Stewart said earlier this year when it was announced her magazine would stop printing, so resources could be put toward her website. “As consumers continue to search digital platforms for information, I am thrilled to be building Martha.com into the kind of e-commerce digital experience I’ve always wanted for my readers.”
Circulation for roughly 75 of America’s top magazines dropped -9.1% from June 2021 compared to June 2022, according to Alliance for Audited Media, and that is only the decline over the past year. The industry had already seen circulation erode over recent decades as more and more news consumers find their information on the internet.
Fourth Watch editor Steve Krakauer, a devoted media junkie, recently noted that New York magazine is the only print publication he still receives in the mail when covering a deep dive the publication did into Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop. In the modern era, magazines generating news is increasingly rare, but Krakauer believes New York accomplished it this month with an “exhaustive, meticulous” cover story about the scandalous laptop.
Krakauer feels “the entire legacy media is in trouble overall, for reasons both in its control and outside of it,” and the magazine industry is no exception.
“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,” Krakauer told Fox News Digital. “I used to subscribe to about five magazines and newspapers, now I get one in the mail.”