In Praise of (TIME) Magazine Journalism

Actually, this post is more about praise of one specific magazine, although I have said before that I continue to enjoy several magazines.

The one I’m talking about is TIME magazine, which we just started subscribing to this month. I was at the eye doctor with my daughter a few weeks ago and picked up an issue and read some of it in the waiting area, and was really impressed by the depth of their coverage. Decided to subscribe and our first issue just arrived this week.

Guess what? I learned more in the first 20 pages of the first issue than I’ve learned in the past three months of watching TV news and reading links found on Twitter and Facebook.

I had no idea, for example, that — on a per capita basis — Belgium is Europe’s top source of foreign fighters that join ISIS. And that the next big fear among defense and security officials is that ISIS will get its hands on the nuclear materials needed to make a dirty bomb. In fact, when ISIS overran Mosul, Iraq, in 2014, it got access to about 90 pounds of radiological material from a university in the city. Scary, huh?

I also learned that, even though Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won Burma’s recent election, the military — which controls 25% of parliament — wrote a new constitutional clause that keeps her from becoming president. Instead, a close confidant of hers (and a male) will become president, while Suu Kyi is “expected to take four ministerial portfolios.”

I learned that President Obama’s visit to Cuba was not as peachy as it appeared on network news. Just hours before Obama landed, Cuban police rounded up dissidents — a reminder, as TIME put it, that the country is still a “police state.”

I learned that residents of Great Britain will soon be voting on whether their country should remain part of the EU, and how that decision could cause a domino effect across Europe.

And here at home, I learned about the machinations happening behind the scenes as the Republican party tries to get its convention delegates to vote against Trump in Cleveland later this year. Here’s some background on how both parties handle primaries/caucuses and assigning delegates.

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All this in just the first 20 pages of the magazine.

And it made me think about the real value that a weekly news magazine has in this day and age. Cable news, network TV news and even mass online news publications have to fight for attention in the non-stop rush of a 24-hour news cycle. The demand for eyeballs leads to some very sketchy journalistic choices and doesn’t allow much room for the type of reporting depth that a weekly magazine can provide. TIME (and others like it) may be fighting for subscribers, but they don’t need to outdo themselves every day with something more titillating than yesterday’s stories. It’s super refreshing to get actual news and information without all the shouting and “can you top this?” journalism that you find on cable TV and in social media.

Needless to say, I’m really happy that we started this subscription.

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One Response to In Praise of (TIME) Magazine Journalism

  1. Shauna McGee Kinney April 13, 2016 at 2:54 am #

    Matt,

    Great to hear that Time Magazine is upholding quality journalism.

    I find that El Mercurio (Chile) has better coverage on the US elections than the US sources! I’m seeing that emol (dot) com spends more time building a story with facts than saturating the articles with opinions.

    I also pick up novel analysis of science and psychology topics from Nautalis. The topics can be quirky and backed by reasonable sources.

    Final favourite source of mine is Pew Research. I’ve found some interesting reasoning behind outcomes in their Journalism research. Sometimes the outcome we expect has reasons we weren’t expecting.

    – Shauna

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