Turning a page more insightful than a click

Before falling asleep the other night, I learned something about workplace culture at the CIA, how it differs a lot from U.S. military life.

I thought I’d had my fill of the Gen. David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell intrigue. Yet reading a Newsweek article, “The Fall of a General,” by Daniel Klaidman and Gail Sheehy offered fresh insight about the whole mess.

It was a pleasure to read a magazine after looking at a computer screen at work all day.

Oh, and ask me about “Cloud Atlas.” I haven’t seen the movie, a time-bending tale starring Tom Hanks. I also missed the book when it came out in 2004. I now know — thanks to “‘Cloud Atlas’ for Dummies” — that David Mitchell’s novel caused lots of buzz.

The question-and-answer piece by Rob Verger was also published in a recent Newsweek.

I’m in mourning, just like snack eaters are about the demise of Twinkies. It was announced in October that the Dec. 31 issue would be Newsweek’s last print edition. In January, the magazine that merged with publisher Tina Brown’s Daily Beast website a few years ago will switch to an all-digital format.

The death of Newsweek as I know it is no big surprise. Newsweek was owned by The Washington Post Co., which owns The Daily Herald, for five decades before being sold to Sidney Harman — for $1 — in 2010. Newsweek was started in 1933.

Former Newsweek editor and writer Evan Thomas, quoted last month in The Washington Post, said the magazine’s “economic model was just broken.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 18 that since 2005, Newsweek’s circulation has dropped by about half, to 1.5 million, and advertising pages are down 80 percent.

It’s not the same magazine it once was. As recently as 2010, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Mecham was Newsweek’s editor-in-chief. Fareed Zakaria, now associated with Time magazine and CNN, also left Newsweek in 2010.

In the big picture, the loss of one magazine is a ripple in a large pond. For me it’s sad news.

Setting aside the possibility that the end of Newsweek is a harbinger of my future, I’m still blue. As a reader, I’m losing a nice habit. I spend many hours of free time turning pages.

Sure, I’ll still snooze off to sleep with books and magazines falling open at my bedside. To avoid coming home to find no news magazine in the mailbox, I subscribed to Time shortly after Newsweek announced the end of print publication.

I’m adjusting to Time, my parents’ news magazine of choice while I was growing up. Hooked on Newsweek’s back-page “My Favorite Mistake” interviews, I happily read the “10 Questions for Sherman Alexie” article on the last page of my first issue of Time.

What about reading Newsweek online? Not likely. I already have way too much to read online. I’m afraid that for me, Newsweek will soon be out of sight, out of mind.

As the current issue explains in its “Note to Our Readers,” print subscribers will have access to the digital format in January: “If we have your email address on file, we will notify you as each new issue is published, and you can enjoy it on your tablet or Web brower.”

Great, more email, and more stuff to click on. When my print subscription runs out, here’s what The Wall Street Journal reported I’d need to pay to keep reading: “Digital subscriptions to the new Newsweek Global will cost $4.99 for a single copy, the same price as the magazine, or $24.99 for an annual subscription.” The newspaper said there may be “pricing experimentation, as the company figures out what consumers are actually willing to pay.”

I was willing to switch to another magazine.

That makes me, I suppose, a dinosaur. I do have a Nook, which I took on vacation last summer. I like carrying tons of books inside a little gizmo, and being able to download a bestseller in a flash.

What’s different about a magazine or newspaper is that in turning pages, you stop to read stories you might never seek out online. It’s like browsing in a bookstore. Without planning to, you end up learning about “Cloud Atlas” and the CIA.

It’s a cozy experience, curling up with a magazine. I’ll miss more than that.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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