The rumors appear to be true: Newsweek will amputate up to one million copies from its 2.6 million circulation, according to Wall Street Journal sources, and no fewer than 500,000. There will be an unknown number of layoffs, announced Thursday, to be achieved through voluntary buyouts like the 111 from last spring. But the biggest change at the 73-year-old magazine: It's going to become a whole lot more like Washington Post Co. sibling Slate, with contrarian, gimmicky or otherwise grabby headlines that wouldn't be out of place on Digg.
Just look at the examples above: "Lincoln vs Darwin"! "The Religious Case For Gay Marriage"! "Global Warning Is a Hoax*/Not really lulz ROFL"!
"Covers like Lincoln v. Darwin is what the redesign is all about... We are trying to be more provocative."
...Recently, Newsweek has emphasized commentary on hot-button issues, such as gay marriage, by big-name journalists like editor Jon Meacham and international editor Fareed Zakaria, as well as contributions from political operatives and academics like Michael Beschloss and Sean Wilentz.
The idea is to just kind of sit back and pontificate on the world, like The Economist, without the need for all those pricey reporters everywhere. Then elite, smart people will read the magazine, which will become a "thought leader," as anonymous Newsweekers phrased it in Folio Tuesday, and advertisers will pay a premium. Meanwhile the magazine will save on postage since it won't have to mail anything to the poors!
But of course people who fancy themselves "thought leaders" hungry for global news opinion can just order The Economist, which has way more snob appeal than Newsweek. Meanwhile confused pediatricians and dentists will stop ordering the magazine for their waiting rooms, due to the increasingly inflammatory covers; bloggers will mock the magazine for going tabloidy; and Matt Drudge will finally hire Michael Isikoff away to write for Drudge Report directly, since if you're going to do investigative journalism on behalf of a spinmeister you might as well work for the big, growing one with lots of extra money.