By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Mitt Herald makes its debut

We’ve all seen plenty of lame op-eds by politicians — or, rather, lame op-eds written on behalf of politicians. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen most of a newspaper’s front page given over to hyping one (click for larger view), with a piece “by” Mitt Romney.

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  1. Stephen Stein

    Reminiscent of this, no?

  2. Mike Benedict

    That darned liberal media … at it again!

  3. Mike Benedict

    @DK: Separately, I’ll be interested in your take, if you have one, on the latest incarnation of Newsweek. I saw something on Romenesko where they interviewed the guy hired for the redesign, and he prattled on and on about the new typeface, which, by the way, is damn near unreadable.

    That was observation no. 1. Observation no. 2 was, shouldn’t a magazine titled “Newsweek” contain, you know, “news?”

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Mike: I have not had a chance to see the new Newsweek yet, but for the time being, Jack Shafer’s take seems pretty smart. I like his take that neither Jon Meacham nor Tina Brown seem to like news or the week. But at least Tina likes magazines; I’m not sure Meacham does. Still, I was very surprised that Brown would go with something that seems like it’s out of the late ’90s.

  4. Mike Benedict

    I hadn’t seen Shafer’s take, but now that I read it, I think he got it almost exactly right. What’s interesting to me is that Brown’s vision for Newsweek “filling the gaps left when a story has seemingly passed” is essentially what Meacham said when they rolled out his last makeover. (For the record, I liked Meacham’s novel concept that not all stories could or should be summed up in a photo, a cutline and 500 words, especially, when 200 or so of those words were simply patter and the last seven to 10 inevitably something along the lines of “let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

    (Separately, I have felt Shafer has a bone to pick with Meacham because, well, it was Meacham, not Shafer, who ran the show at Newsweek. But that’s another story.)

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Mike: Do you have some reason to believe that Shafer had wanted to be the editor of Newsweek? That’s a new one on me.

  5. Mike Benedict

    @DK: No inside information, if that’s what you are asking. But for a guy who so clearly wants to run things — he has been editor of at least three publications — it could not have been easy to be cast as a columnist while the guy who was in charge apparently was doing everything wrong (and was some distance apart from Shafer politically to boot).

  6. Mike Benedict

    @DK: Ugh. My mistake. I confused Shafer with Jacob Weisberg.

  7. Laurence Kranich

    Lately I’ve been getting the Herald delivered, because I like reading a newspaper on paper, and I don’t like paying $50 a month for it. I know I can’t expect world class journalism, but it’s ridiculous covers like this that made me cancel the Herald last time about 4 years ago, and that will probably make me cancel again. It’s too bad. I love newspapers and I really want to see true newspaper competition survive, but this isn’t the way to do it. Joe Sciacca has made some nice improvements with new columnists in his shrinking news space (less than 10 tabloid pages most days) but the Herald’s front pages are usually screamingly stupid.

  8. Brad Deltan

    At first I thought you said something quite profane that rhymes with “The Mitt Herald”.

    Then I realized you didn’t say that.

    Then I realized…you kinda did. 🙂

  9. Ron Newman

    Why does the Herald think front pages like this (or Howie Carr’s liposuction) will help sell papers? How many sales are lost to people who would feel embarrassed to be seen in public carrying around these covers?

  10. @Ron Newman: The Herald is mainly a commuter newspaper so the flashy headlines attract on-site sales of people sitting on the trains and buses or walking by hawkers or newsstands. I don’t know what the percentage difference between sales on the street and delivery is, but that’s why they have attention grabbing headlines.
    For close to 15 years when I was commuting on a T bus or train and didn’t own a car, I had the Globe delivered to my house and would buy the Herald from a hawker or box. Sometimes, if I didn’t have the money, I wouldn’t buy the Herald or I would read one from someone who got it at work (hence the old ABC circ/audience assumption that 2.4 people read a single edition of every newspaper that is sold).

    @Dan Kennedy: I believe in the past, maybe in the Phoenix days, you published day-over-day sales results that showed that the days when Howie Carr’s column was published, the circ was much higher, because people would go out of their way to buy it on Wednesdays and Fridays, am I remembering this correctly?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Tony: I’m not sure I ever had those kinds of statistics available to me. I vaguely recall reporting in the mid-’90s that Herald publisher Pat Purcell had done such an analysis and decided to keep Carr despite some misgivings. I don’t remember the details. But does anyone believe Carr is the draw today that he was then?

      Your analysis matches what people at the Herald will tell you. Since virtually all newspapers are losing circulation, the question is whether the Herald would have lost fewer readers if it had taken a smarter approach. I think the answer is yes. And there’s no question such a Herald would be more appealing to advertisers.

  11. Al Fiantaca

    What do the Herald covers say about their opinion of their target audience? It doesn’t look as if they hold them in very high regard.

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