For the Record: RIP USN&WR


This is kind of sad: word late last week of the end of U.S. News & World Report as a print publication, after a 77-year run. (Technically, it will no longer be something you can subscribe to, though some standalone issues will still be published and go on sale.) The in-house memo announcing the change, which has a resolutely upbeat "taking this opportunity to spend more time with the family" tone, is on the Romenesko site here. Eg:

>>Colleagues, We're finally ready to complete our transition to a predominantly digital publishing model with selected, single-topic print issues. This will allow us to make the most of the proven products, useful journalism, and great audience growth we've been sustaining... As you know, we've been a leading innovator in adapting to the changing environment -- and we don't intend to give up that lead.<<

During a nearly two-year stint as editor of US News in the late 1990s, I learned a lot about the rigors of the "business space" for weekly newsmagazines. These were especially apparent from the perspective of US News, as the number-three contender (behind Time and Newsweek) in a field that, in the long run, can probably support one entrant at most. It was clear even then that without the rankings business that US News had pioneered--"America's Best Colleges" and so on--the publication would have had a hard time going on; rankings appear to be its main emphasis in its web-based future.

For some other time, more discussion on how colleges might blunt the distorting effects of US News rankings; why, exactly, the weekly newsmag business has proven so tough; what will become of the magazine's famous back-page owner's editorials, which are a genre of their own; etc. For now, I'm sorry to note the end of any publication. I'd seen US News around the household when I was a kid, relied on it for competitive-debate prep when I was in high school, and truly cared about it later on. Journalisto sum; journalisti nihil a me alienum puto.*
* This is a homemade translation, so don't bother telling me how it's wrong, especially as regards "journalisto"! The image above, of an old US News cover before its merger with World Report, from here.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

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