September 20, 2012 2:29 PM   Subscribe

How do I tell my dad that we need to find a better weekly news magazine?

My family has been subscribed to Newsweek for years. In the past six months, I've become increasingly frustrated with the quality of the magazine, and I'm starting to completely doubt its journalistic integrity. I've mentioned it a few times, and pointed out a couple of offending articles. My mom is totally on board with finding a new magazine. My dad is less so--but I'm sure if I had more concrete examples, he would be open to it.

I should note that my parents do respect my opinions on these matters, and it hasn't caused much drama before, but I'm afraid of how easily this can come across as "You're stupid and wrong and let me show you what's best for you."

Essentially, how do I frame this? Are there a couple of particularly strong specific examples that I should stick to? I have lots of trouble with these kind of discussions because I try to cover everything, and then my argument becomes confusing to follow, or we get stuck quibbling over a minor point. I'm also not sure if I should try to bring up big-picture points about the issues with modern American journalism as well, so he might notice how some of his other favorite sources, like CNN, have some of the same problems.

My dad is a really smart guy, and I owe him so much for encouraging the development of my critical thinking. However, I think seeing bullshit like this on the cover of a trusted source is toxic, and I don't think he's immune. (And clearly I'm not the only one who takes issue with it.) I am extremely proud and lucky that my father is as open-minded and intelligent as he is, but as I get older, I notice his prejudices more and more. I wish he could understand just how pervasive prejudices and "isms" are, and that all stereotypes need to be held suspect and interrogated for their actual accuracy and relevance. I guess that's another whole conversation, isn't it?

I also think that the conversation would go better if I had a magazine to compare it to, and maybe replace it with, but I don't know which magazine I should go with. I'm a child of the internet generation, and the news articles I read come from all over.

Thanks in advance.
posted by myelin sheath to Human Relations (32 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would recommended Economist and New Yorker -- quite different in style.
posted by zeikka at 2:31 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

As soon as you find a better replacement magazine, just get a subscription to it and have it around the house. You and mom read the good one, Dad can read either. You can help ease him into it by saying, hey, check out the article on Thing in Better Magazine. That way, he can see for himself that the content is better than Newsweek's without being made to feel inferior in the process. There's no need for this to be come some family sit down, just bring in a second.

And if he decides that he likes Newsweek better, just let him have that. If someone told me I couldn't watch Survivor because it's stupid and dumb, I would tell them to STFU, because the way I choose to entertain myself is none of their goddamned business.

I get that you want to raise the family level of discourse, but I would go into this with managed expectations.
posted by phunniemee at 2:34 PM on September 20, 2012 [22 favorites]

I'm assuming you live at home, from the way this question is structured. If I were you, I'd not focus so much on making him give up something he likes, but rather just buy another subscription yourself to something else you'd prefer. (And I agree with zeikka's suggestions on that front.) After having an alternative in the house for a while, he might start to see your point of view.

In general, though, the earlier you learn that you can't force someone into seeing your side of an issue - any issue - the easier your life is going to be. "Pick your battles" is a cliche for a reason.
posted by something something at 2:36 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

If it were me (and it has been in virtually identical situations), I would just go ahead and get a subscription for another magazine, pay for it myself, and have that coexist with Newsweek for a while. The Economist is the one I prefer, but it is not cheap, unfortunately.
posted by The World Famous at 2:36 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

May I suggest that you go to the library, compare how several different magazine covered a topic of interest to you, choose a few, and then either subscribe to them yourself or bring home a few copies from the newsstand. If they're lying around, other people in your family may read them and come to their own conclusions. That's much better than grandstanding about it and making a STATEMENT that his magazine must go, which won't end well.
posted by carmicha at 2:36 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth - with balance and a slighter less elitist tone than the Economist, while not sinking to USA Today standards, I like The Week.
posted by kcm at 2:36 PM on September 20, 2012 [11 favorites]

I basically came in here to say what the above two people said: subscribe to either the New Yorker or the Economist (I'd go with the former over the latter, YMMV) and if he wants to read something else, it'll be at hand. You're not going to win anyone over with an argument that boils down to "my propaganda is objectively better than your propaganda."
posted by griphus at 2:36 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I hate Newsweek, and US News & World Report and all the rest of those "news" magazines, because by the time they talk about it, it's old news. I much prefer magazines that do longform journalism. Probably two of the more mainstream magazines that do this are The Atlantic and Harpers. The New Yorker is good too, and Vanity Fair often has some really good stuff in it, (although it also has WAY too much rag-writing.) The Economist is great, but it's pretty damned expensive.
posted by nushustu at 2:37 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Magazines are fairly cheap. Why not subscribe to something better (Newsweek sucks), read it with your mom, and invite your dad to enjoy it with you guys. If he refuses to touch it, leave it alone and let your dad be with his Newsweek. If he gets into it, you could compare and contrast it with Newsweek and cancel your subscription if he decides its worthless.
posted by zachlipton at 2:38 PM on September 20, 2012

I actually think Newsweek and the like can be useful. You already know what its bias and journalistic standards are, or so it seems. What you can learn from it is "what are mainstream US readers being exposed to?" I think this is good to be aware of and is why I keep CNN in my feed reader.
posted by univac at 2:40 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

At 22 years old I don't understand why you need to convince your father that your family needs another magazine. Just subscribe to another magazine and offer to share it with your family.

Among your choices are the New Yorker, the Economist, Mother Jones if that's your thing ... also, pay attention to the "all over" sites where you get your news and subscribe to one or more of their print versions if they have them, or print articles out to share if your parents aren't link-followers.
posted by headnsouth at 2:42 PM on September 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Go out and buy a copy of Monocle, especially the current month's issue. FT Weekend is one of the best news weeklies in the USA now.
posted by parmanparman at 2:47 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nth-ing the Economist. Also consider the Guardian Weekly. If you want to sidestep the discussion, "Happy birthday/Christmas/whatever, here's a subscription to [magazine]!" If you don't want to sidestep the discussion: as a result of this recent Ask MeFi thread, I'm now halfway through How to win friends and influence people. It's great on how to have a discussion without having an argument.
posted by pont at 2:52 PM on September 20, 2012

The Guardian in iPad is quite good and costs just a few dollars a month comparably to Newsweek.
posted by parmanparman at 3:00 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

May I suggest that you go to the library,

... and while you're there, compare a current Newsweek with an issue from the 1960s or '70s, and observe how 'dumbed-down' the content has become. Time suffers even more, in such a comparison.
posted by Rash at 3:08 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Economist, hands down.
posted by BurnMage at 3:14 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

A few years back my parents reached a similar conclusion about Newsweek. They went with The New Yorker and they've been happy enough with it to keep up the subscription, at least.
posted by ckape at 3:19 PM on September 20, 2012

Why not keep the Newsweek sub and try 1 or 2 others alongside it for a couple months? They all have come-on offers.
The New Yorker is not a news magazine.
The Economist has a broader world view than any of the US news mags.
The Sunday New York Times, in quantity, is like 5 or 10 Newsweeks. The quality -- well, for me there's no contest, but it's a judgment for you, and your Dad, to make.
But Newsweek is designed to be comfortable. I wouldn't expect much change.
posted by LonnieK at 3:48 PM on September 20, 2012

On preview, several people made the point: Don't force the point.
Just arrange some coexistence for different news sources and let the chips fall.
posted by LonnieK at 3:51 PM on September 20, 2012

My parents subscribed to Newsweek, Discover, The New Yorker, TIME, U.S. News & World Report, Reader's Digest, Zillions, Seventeen, and a few other things over the course of my childhood. Of those, only Discover and The New Yorker were really worth reading; Reader's Digest would probably come in third, because although a lot of the content is a bit, er, glossy and sensationalistic, it's still a decent read.

Now, I subscribe to 2600, Analog, and Wired, and I'm pleased with all three. But my goal is to feed my imagination to generate weird dreams, not to keep up with the news—I have Twitter and MetaFilter for that!

When I'm at the airport looking for a general-interest publication to read on vacation, though, I usually buy a copy of The New Yorker and a copy of The Economist. They can be a bit dense to get through in just a week of periodic reading, but they're way better reading than you'll get from a rag like Newsweek. I would subscribe to one of those.
posted by limeonaire at 3:55 PM on September 20, 2012

Many magazines offer discounted senior and student subscription rates.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:00 PM on September 20, 2012

I'm afraid of how easily this can come across as "You're stupid and wrong and let me show you what's best for you."


as I get older, I notice his prejudices more and more. I wish he could understand just how pervasive prejudices and "isms" are

These appear to be at least somewhat contradictory.

I think if you want another household magazine, you should just subscribe to one, share it, leave it around for any interested parties, and forget it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:24 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

The New Yorker is not a news magazine.

It's not going to be full of fresh-this-week content, but it's one of the essential topical magazines out there, with detailed depth reporting on American foreign and domestic policy, movements abroad, medical care, the environment/climate change, poverty, social and cultural issues, etc. However, if you get a lot of your news from a magazine, any single issue won't have the breadth you need.

The Economist is a very smart and very global magazine, a real eye-opener that is full of interesting content. But though its editorial stance is socially liberal and free-speech oriented, I think it's worth mentioning that its bias is also very strongly free-market, and it's unapologetic about that. I know a lot of people who read the magazine and somehow don't know or perceive that, but it very much influences the analysis of events. This doesn't in any way make it a bad magazine - it's great - but it's really a good idea to keep that in mind while reading articles about global trade, economic policy, the environment, etc.

In the case of your problem, that's still the one I'd recommend adding. You might also consider a Sunday-only New York Times subscription. The Sunday issue is magazinelike, with a solid Week in Review/Opinion section, the Book Review for new books, Arts, and Sunday Styles for the fluff.
posted by Miko at 7:24 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

The New Yorker is not a news magazine.*

Should appear as a quote - I don't really agree with it but wanted to respond to it. It's a news magazine, but sort of a "Slow News" magazine.
posted by Miko at 7:26 PM on September 20, 2012

I wish he could understand just how pervasive prejudices and "isms" are, and that all stereotypes need to be held suspect and interrogated for their actual accuracy and relevance.

This would seem to indicate that you want The New Yorker, since The Economist is not very good at social issues, particularly social issues in the US. I also think you have a stronger argument that Newsweek+New Yorker is a very complimentary pairing (just based on format, and forgiving Newsweek's faults), while Newsweek+Economist could lead to a more contentious "whose magazine is better" issue. And if you do go with The Economist, frame it in your mind as "this magazine covers a much broader range of topics than Newsweek" rather than "this magazine is more correct than Newsweek", because some of the stuff The Economist writes can be pretty wacky too.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:58 PM on September 20, 2012

My parents switched over from Time and Newsweek to the New Yorker and the Sunday New York Times over the last couple of years.
posted by MadamM at 11:41 PM on September 20, 2012

Is The Week magazine any good?
posted by srboisvert at 4:22 PM on September 21, 2012

I am very surprised Mother Jones hasn't been mentioned yet, since it is so highly rated and sits decidedly left. You could add a subscription to The Atlantic and call the pairing balanced journalism.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:56 AM on September 22, 2012

You don't think the Atlantic's editorial stance is also left-leaning? I very much do. It's certainly centrist mainly, with a smattering of conservative writers, but on the whole it covers topics of interest to, and in a way that engages, the political left, and I would not say it's a counter in termsof weight of political stance to Mother Jones.
posted by Miko at 9:17 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I do think it's centrist, and I think the pair is a nice mix. It would pass for balanced journalism in my house; I'm certainly not giving money to the National Review.

However, I would like to update my answer: I thought the CS Monitor had pulled all print, but it has not; it has moved to a magazine format. You can currently get a year (26 issues) for $26. That is a real bargain; I've basically replaced the NYT with the CS Monitor as the Times circles the drain in every faster rotations.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:58 PM on September 22, 2012

Please not The Week! I found it as bad as Newsweek in terms of digestible news nuggets without deep thinking. The Week also falls into that "fair and balanced" trap, where they make many false equivalencies.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:22 AM on September 25, 2012

This decision's being OBE (overcome by events), as we say -- according to this FPP in the blue, today, the last issue of Newsweek will be published on New Year's Eve.
posted by Rash at 11:23 AM on October 18, 2012

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