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.