Dear Sidney Harman…

The pros give advice for the future of Newsweek

On Monday, The Washington Post Company announced that it had sold Newsweek to ninety-two-year-old stereo mogul Sidney Harman. Although Mike Allen and Keach Hagey in Politico report that “Harman is expected to preserve the serious-minded, essentially New-Democratic tone Meacham set for the magazine,” the news nonetheless sparked speculation about what the new owner might do to turn the venerable weekly around. We asked a wide range of media types for the one piece of advice you’d give to Sidney Harman, as well as for ideas about what Newsweek should do next? Here are some of our favorite responses. We’ll update this as more come in.

Dave Winer, Visiting Scholar, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU:

The opportunity for all big media, not just Newsweek, is to become a platform for sources to report directly to people who are thirsty for news. You and I should be able to write “for Newsweek” as we now write on Blogger or Tumblr or Wordpress. But I would give the same advice to Time or US News or The Washington Post or The New York Times.

Roger Ebert, film critic and screenwriter:

I think Sidney Harman should read Spectator.

Bill Grueskin, Dean of Academic Affairs at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, formerly of The Wall Street Journal:

Create premium editions with content so valuable and irreplaceable that Newsweek could use it to generate either subscription revenue or obscenely high advertising rates.

Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune:

1. Remember that all of us these days get our news not every week or every day, but every minute and every second. The real value Newsweek brings to the table going forward is context and analysis—forward-rotation journalism. I already know what happened by the time they’d tell me; what I really need to know is why and how and what’s going to happen next.

2. Just as important, I need innovation in presentation: true 21st-century platform-agnostic journalism. Wow me with Flash-enabled tools; bowl me over with data applications; engage me with story-telling by way of audio and video.

3. Own the push-content space. Use social media more aggressively to put your content in front of willing audiences. Collaborate with and partner with as many of your former competitors as possible to produce great work and distribute it across their network as well as your own. And tell all of us how to think about the news in person, through events across the country that engage us, literally, where we live.

Tucker Carlson, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller:

I wish I knew. If I had any clue what to do with Newsweek, I would have bought it myself.

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Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner