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Stephen Colbert to guest edit Newsweek

by Nick Zaino, posted Jun 3rd 2009 4:36PM
Stephen Colbert, The Colbert ReportThe New York Observer is reporting that Stephen Colbert will guest edit the June 8 edition of Newsweek. According to the Observer, the idea came from a lunch between Newsweek editor Jon Meacham (who has been a guest on The Colbert Report) and Colbert, in which Meacham was impressed by Colbert's knowledge of current events.

The stories themselves will be treated seriously, as they would in any other issue, but Colbert gets to play in the margins, editing contributor bios, writing an essay, and annotating different stories. Which should make next week's issue look something like the magazine version of The Daily Show's faux text book America.

The Observer quotes Colbert as saying, "I'm confident we'll have mixed results! I want to be apart [sic] of that proud tradition!" and cites a few other guest editor ventures gone wrong. I wonder about the timing of it. Newsweek launched a complete redesign three issues ago, trying to re-conceptualize the newsweekly's place in the age of instant news.

The result has been more thought-provoking, more interesting, and less fluffy around the edges than the old Newsweek, which at times seems like it was trying to surround its more serious work with a pale imitation of Entertainment Weekly-style snarky short features (EW is good at that sort of thing, Newsweek - not so much). It's clear they wouldn't want to have Colbert aboard for the first issue of the redesign, which would seem like they were desperate for some sort of buzz and probably would have alienated some readers who saw it as a stunt.

That said, it is still a bit of a buzz-generating stunt, and I wonder if the three issues that have come out have established the new Newsweek well enough that they could tinker with it again now, albeit for just one issue. I'm curious to see how it may fit into that transition, whether it's an aberration or somehow continues to push in the direction Meacham has been leading.

As a Newsweek subscriber, I know I have enjoyed the redesign, and as a writer covering comedy, I'll enjoy the Colbert issue. I hope it gets Newsweek the attention it is seeking, and it can get back to what it has been trying to establish for June 15.

[via Mediabistro]

Bonus video - Jon Meacham on The Colbert Report:

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jon Meacham
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Keyboard Cat

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June 05 2009 at 7:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dan C

Wired magazine did a similar thing within their last few issues with J.J. Abrams guest-editing. That was not spectacular and I cannot imagine this will be either. Still, I'll probably buy that issue just to see what they'd do.

June 04 2009 at 7:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Can a magazine jump the shark? Apparently, yes.

June 03 2009 at 5:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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