As "Serious" News Magazines Slide, A Pocket Of The Genre Perks Up

For any aficionado of foreign affairs or political coverage who looked at the Fas-Fax numbers released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations at the end of June, they made for some grim reading.

While the Time Inc.-owned People magazine saw its circulation rise to 3.8 million--a rise of 1.3 percent--and circulation for Bauer Publishing's In Touch grew an impressive 49.7 percent to 1.12 million, some of North America's most venerable newsweeklies did not fare so well.

Newsweek saw subscriptions climb a statistically insignificant 2.5 percent--unimpressive, but better than Time's 0.6 percent or U.S. News & World Report's near-moribund 0.3 percent.

Taking a closer look at the hard news category, however, two publications appear to stand out from the pack, for various reasons.

The Economist's North American print edition saw a subscription increase of 14.2 percent over the first half of 2005, while Dennis Publishing's The Week saw its subscriptions climb 43 percent. "The traditional newsweeklies have become less news magazines and more popular culture magazines," says Justin B. Smith, The Week's president.



"(But the numbers) suggest that there is a growth market for serious, global-minded journalism."

The venerable British weekly and the upstart The Week--which also got its start in the U.K. before commencing publication in the U.S. in 2001--are likely growing as a result of different drivers, analysts said.

Dan Capell of Capell & Associates, a circulation consultancy company, saw two distinct currents at work in the numbers.

"The Economist has been on the upswing for a decade--they've been a good performer for a long time, despite being one of the highest-priced magazines," Capell said. "As for The Week, a new magazine better be growing, so it's perhaps a little bit too early to tell."

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