Newsweek was responding to this pressure, Porter wrote, with staff reductions, and also with the “pursuit of a hip voice, a tone that would be familiar to readers of, say, Esquire or New York’s Spy magazine.” Its coverage of the 1988 Iowa caucuses was “notable for giving readers a surrealistic, heavily cynical view of the process… as if a curtain had suddenly been pulled back from a puppet show.” And, in an innovation that has survived through the most recent redesign, “a weekly column called Conventional Wisdom… tracked not how candidates were actually doing but how political pundits felt they were doing; arrows showed whether someone’s stock had risen or declined.” Of course, the supply of that sort of writing didn’t remain limited for long, either.

It wasn’t all woe-is-the-newsweeklies, though. Near his conclusion, Porter wrote:

For one thing, not everyone thinks the long-term newsmagazine economics are so gloomy. “Some say there’s just not room for three newsmagazines; I think quite the opposite,” says Mort Zuckerman of U.S. News. “In fact, I can imagine even more than three. When advertisers look at TV, with all the channel zapping and switching that goes on in that medium, I see continued and strong support for the high demographics at all three newsmagazines.”

Of course, U.S. News, as Shafer notes, became a monthly in 2008.

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.