Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Remaking of U.S. News & World Report -- less news, less world, more consumer reports

It's tough out here being a newsweekly. U.S. News, which had reduced publication to 32 issues this year, will reduce its frequency even more so. Starting in 2009, U.S. News will publish biweekly (that's every other week for those confused with semimonthlies, which is twice a month), focusing on consumer reporting and product rankings, according to a New York Times article, "U.S. News Plans to Publish Biweekly and Expand Consumer Focus" by Richard Perez-Pena.

Just as I noted in my post from April, Wall St. Journal looks at "what's next for newsmagazines?", Perez-Pena looks at the counterintuitive success of The Economist.

Meanwhile the privately held U.S. News continues to lose advertising dollars and pages; so far ad pages have dropped 35% according to the Magazine Publishers of America cited by the Times as the result of publishing fewer issues.

U.S. News' executive editor admits he hasn't figured out the right path. "Nobody's got it figured out yet. Everybody's looking over everybody else's shoulder," he told Perez-Pena.

No word if U.S. News will change its name to reflect its new focus:

Less News, More Rankings Semiweekly -- I know it isn't easy to say, but the same could be said for U.S. News & World Report.

Actually, I'm sad to see U.S. News take this path. Its ranking reports (Best Hospitals, Best Colleges, etc.) certainly sell well and get good advertising support, but it sounds like it could easily turn into an advertising-supported Consumer Reports. And I think Consumer Reports has a tremendous head start, a strong brand and great integrity.

For another look at the implications, check out AdAge story, "U.S. News Loses Weekly War as Sector's Ad Pages Plummet."

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