Libre: Time’s up for Time

WHERE have some of the most illustrious magazines gone? Life closed shop in 2000. Asiaweek ceased publication in 2001. Newsweek since Dec. 31, 2012 ceased print publication, opting to go digital. And now, Time last Feb. 1, 2018 redirected its corporate website to media company Meredith, to which former editor-in-chief John Huey sent a jarring tweet: “R.I.P. Time Inc. The 95-year run is over.”

There was a time when people looked forward each week to copies of any of the mentioned publications. For Life, readers were treated to quality photographs that told stories. Asiaweek was Asia-centric that Time later acquired and killed. Newsweek, due to diminishing revenue, was sold in 2010 by The Washington Post Company to Sidney Harman, who paid one dollar and assumed its liabilities.

Now, time is up for Time. It once had the world’s largest circulation for a weekly news magazine at 26 million but by 2017 its circulation dwindled to three million. The publication established readership through its in-depth articles, its nose for news, its annual selection of person of the year, and the fine writing of outstanding contributors. The Time Person of the Year is as coveted as a Nobel Prize, though not necessarily as prestigious with selections such as Adolf Hitler (1938), Joseph Stalin (1939 and 1942), and Ayatollah Khomeini (1979).

Unlike the Nobel Prize, the Time Person of the Year gives recognition to a person or group of persons, good or bad, who hugged the news the most over the past 12 months.

While Time had strong journalistic grounding, its woes were the results of the changing of owners that demanded profit above all consideration, the digital media transformation, and the short attention span of people. Like education, media has become a battleground between the intellectuals and businessmen. While the former espouse such virtues as courage, justice, truth and freedom, the latter primarily look at the financial bottom line. With advertisers migrating to digital platforms, shareholders have found little return on investments. It must be noted that Time was at the forefront in the digitalization of media, which proved to be a precarious environment, and its business model failed to take off. And there is the pop-up generation that find instant satisfaction on real-time information packed into sound bites. For instance, so few would care reading a treatise on global warming by French President Emanuel Macron preferring nonsensical tweets from Taylor Swift.

With publications like Time dying, if not dead, where will idealistic researchers and writers find a venue for expression? Knowledge and information are keys to the progress of humanity, yet false news and biased opinions have taken over the world.
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