Thursday, July 26, 2012

Signs Of The Times...

Tough times for the written word these days, at least the printed written word. First comes news that the cherished elementary school institution Weekly Reader is no more...

 From the New York Times... 

The current-events magazine Weekly Reader, a classroom fixture since 1928, will not be returning from summer vacation, its new owner, Scholastic, confirmed this week.
Instead, Scholastic will fold the publication into its own weekly magazine, Scholastic News; the first issues will be co-branded with both names, Kyle Good, a spokeswoman for Scholastic, wrote in an e-mail...
...Weekly Reader for generations has been summarizing current events, tailored to the specific grade level of its student readers. Depending on how you view it, the effort could be seen as talking down to students, or as holding their hands as they are introduced to the complexities of the adult world they soon will be joining.
“It was Andy Griffith-ish — a safe thing, no advertising, no selling, just about teaching kids to read, teaching kids about the world,” said Mia Toschi, who was senior managing editor at Weekly Reader from 2003 to 2008. “A lot of teachers used it on Friday afternoon; just a wonderful end of the week.”
The magazine is perhaps best known for its presidential poll of students, which proved uncannily accurate — since it began with Dwight Eisenhower vs. Adlai Stevenson in 1956, it was wrong only once, in 1992, when it predicted that President George H.W. Bush would defeat Bill Clinton (the poll did not include Ross Perot). The 14th poll predicted a victory by Barack Obama.

I, like pretty much everyone else, grew up with Weekly Reader. My youngest son, apparently, will not. Interestingly enough, a few months ago, as I was rooting around in the depths of our piano, trying to find the source of an irritating vibration, I happened to discover two old Weekly Readers from the late 50s that had apparently slipped down there at some point in the distant past when my mother was taking childhood piano lessons.

Then, I saw today where another venerable literary institution - this one for grown-ups - is also going four legs to the sky.

From this story on

Milwaukee-based Kalmbach Publishing is looking for someone to buy The Writer magazine, which goes on hiatus after the October 2012 issue rolls off Kalmbach’s presses.
“Our hope is that The Writer will re-emerge under the careful stewardship of a new owner,” says a letter to contributors. 
The Writer was founded 125 years ago and, notes Media Industry Newsletter, has “hosted some of the most illustrious talents and bestselling authors in American letters: Somerset Maugham, Ray Bradbury, Sinclair Lewis, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King, among them.”

I used to read The Writer religiously back when I was younger and, well, wanted to be a writer. Now that I am one, I blame The Writer for my more-or-less permanent state of poverty, angst, and career uncertainty. Still, I'm sad to see it go.

And finally, a prediction that yet another venerable (which these days is apparently code for "doomed") publication may cease print publication and go all digital...

From this story on

IAC/InterActiveCorp., which controls Newsweek, plans to announce a digital plan for the magazine this fall, though it’s unclear how that will affect the print publication.
Bloomberg reporter Edmund Lee, who listened to IAC/InterActiveCorp’s earning call, tweeted, “Barry Diller says there will be a plan in place later this year to take Newsweek digital only.” He tweeted later that he had confirmed this with a public relations representative.
All Things D’s Peter Kafka has a different take, saying his understanding is that Diller is “thinking about going Web-only with Newsweek, but hasn’t committed to it.” Kafka says he confirmed that understanding with a public relations rep.

Geez, Newsweek, too? I can't even begin to recall how many current-events assignments I plagiarized wrote back in junior high and high school from the pages of Newsweek. I guess today's kids can just cut-and-paste from their smartphones?

What's next? Going to the doctor's office and not finding a copy of Highlights For Children? Then I'll know the end is truly nigh...

1 comment:

  1. Kinda sad news about Weekly Reader. Between that and Scholastic Book Club sales, I got a lot of reading done back in the school daze.

    Fortunately, although I was a long-time subscriber to The Writer, I didn't fall down that wormhole of pay-by-the-word and actually managed to find another career path that would leverage my English major.