All you need to know about everything that matters.
Arrogant? Certainly. Audacious? Without a doubt. Accurate? Well, pretty darn close.
After the wild success of The Week in Britain, magazine mogul Felix Dennis pretty much has a right to be so confident about the expected success of the American cousin. After producing the successful geek titles Computer Shopper and MacUser, Dennis took a riskier leap with the eye candy-for-men Maxim and then the toys-for-boys Stuff, but it is his newsweekly that has done supremely well. The U.K. version of The Week has an extensive waiting list for advertisers. Why the waiting list? Both the British and American versions of the magazine are just forty pages long (including front and back covers), and Dennis has committed to keeping advertising to only six pages per issue. In the U.S. edition, ads are typically attractive full-page color pieces, or even double page spreads - there is no page covered with lots of little boxes for text ads. In fact, the most disruptive ad in the magazine is for itself - each issue features a small blurb on the front cover, gushing praise such as "This is a great magazine" (Charlie Rose of PBS), and "I love, love, love this magazine" (Bob Garfield of NPR).
With powerhouses like Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News & World Report on the market, it might seem that the slim The Week wouldn't stand a chance. Its popularity, though, can be attributed to its entirely unique editorial style, which Dennis modeled after the weekly news briefings given to U.S. presidents. While the other magazines employ dozens of journalists, writers, and editors, The Week keeps its staff small - the New York-based group is just about fifteen in number. They don't even write anything: the magazine creates no original content. Instead, its workers are all editors, examining news from sources around the globe and condensing the choice bits into tiny, pieces of no more than 200 words (and often much less) - without even taking credit for it, as all articles omit the byline and the magazine just lists its employees in a tiny box on page three. They may legally rewrite and republish any printed work, as long as the source is credited - and they are, on small print on page thirty-nine.
The Week's content, while more digested than Reader's Digest, spans more sources than any other print publication, and probably covers more ground as well. The major news is explained through paragraphs detailing not only what happened but what related editorials and columnists said about the event, and what will happen next. Also included are borrowed reviews of movies, books, and other media, and an incredibly short "what's good on TV" section. In addition to the standard descriptions of news, though, The Week also presents viewpoints from around the world. One page is devoted to opinions on a controversial topic, and the magazine also features columns from and letters to various U.S. news outlets. Perhaps one of the magazine's most unique features, though, is its reproduction of columns from newspapers around the world, including a section on "how they see us." The Week is also littered with small sidebars and news bites, under headings like "Boring but important" and "It must be true...I read it in the tabloids."
Unusually titled though they are, both of those sections are of critical importance in Dennis's view of what the magazine should be. The Week's target audience is busy 35- to 54-year-olds who have an above average income and education. Calling it "Cliff Notes for intelligent and busy people," Dennis claims that the point of The Week is to "provide social ammunition and information without being boring," and says that it provides the ideal preparation for dinner parties. His competitors don't see his product as a threat, believing that the man who produced Maxim certainly couldn't come up with anything the average Newsweek reader would be interested in. Dennis isn't worried, though, that the magazine will fail - in fact, he already expects it will never be a great financial success. When The Week debuted in spring of 2001, its circulation was about 100,000; Dennis is hoping it will eventually reach 450,000. Most copies will be received by subscribers paying about $75 per year, though newsstand copies are available for $3 if you can find them - they are mostly on sale at bookstores and in commuter hubs. Because the ad-to-editorial ratio is 15% to 85%, the magazine will never make a lot of money. Dennis's response to this is that The Week is his "gift to America" - thanking the country for making him rich through the success of Computer Shopper, Maxim, and his other ventures.
In January of 2002, The Week teamed with ABC News Radio to produce A Day in "The Week" - a series of one-minute features to be aired on weekdays, with content tied directly to the current issue of the magazine.
"A Trip Around the World: The Week Just Flies By" - Washington Post article by Peter Carlson, published 29 Jan 2002. (available online at http://www.theweekmagazine.com/news/news_trip_around_world.html )
...and the magazine itself.