After much hype and hoopla, Newsweek recently unveiled its NEW LOOK.  After all the make-over buildup, I was expecting a fabulous layout and punchy graphics.

While the outside still makes a fine coaster, the innerds are dowdier than ever.  Articles and opinion pieces look like a collection of schlocky, badly-designed advertorials.  The layout is as modern as 1966.  A sea of text and a dearth of white space suggest a giant identity crisis at the mag.   How many focus groups does it take to create a disaster?

Here’s a drug ad next to one of the commentators.  There’s not much difference in type density.  And you know how compelling the fine print of those drug ads can be.

My college alumni magazine is way more design-y than Newsweek.  Denison Magazine takes great pride in having an award winning alumni rag.  It’s so over-the-top, it’s crazy, like a woman wearing a ball gown in church.  Yes, it’s stylish.  But it’s also insanely inappropriate.  Women shouldn’t wear long spangled dresses to worship, and a small Ohio liberal arts school shouldn’t try to pretend it’s RISD.  Sorry.

Furthermore, Denison clearly racks up a fortune in design and printing bills , yet its publication is full of typos and grammatical errors.  In its quest to occupy the cat-bird seat of liberal arts alumni magazines, Denison has over-reached, with predictable results. 

So here’s the solution.  Denison Mag and Newsweek should swap looks, designers, and graphics packages.  Maybe Newsweek could throw in an editor or two, to help out the little pub a bit.  Newsweek will get to look super designy.  Denison will stop looking so pretentious, while having fewer typos. 

Then, and only then, will the magazines in my mailbox reach equilibrium.


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