The editorial maxim was a simple one: Write the best story.
June 11, 2014 1:38 PM   Subscribe

There's no simple or singular means of explaining why publications thrive or die. Entertainment Weekly rose and declined with larger waves affecting the entertainment and publishing industries at large, but its story is more than just that of print media at the turn of the century. That might be the environment, but the larger narrative is that of widespread deregulation in terms of media ownership and the resultant flurry of mergers, acquisitions, and conglomerate masterplanning.
The history of the business of EW.
posted by psoas (16 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Did the conglomerate masterplanning include the giant full-page pop-up add that covered the linked article and didn't have a close button?
posted by Popular Ethics at 2:05 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know it's Entertainment Weekly, but I always see "Ewww".
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:40 PM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

This is a Helen Ann Peterson joint, for those who know what that means.
posted by Diablevert at 2:44 PM on June 11, 2014

A clue for those of us who don't?
posted by ardgedee at 3:35 PM on June 11, 2014

That article explains so much.

I used to love EW, and subscribed for a couple years - to the shock of my friends. I was the guy who didn't even have a tv then, who mostly went to art house cinemas (back when we still had them); people wouldn't believe me that a pop culture magazine was actually good and entertaining.

And then, suddenly, it stopped being entertaining. Or maybe it was a slow decline, and it took me awhile to notice.

And I actually wondered, was it ever really good? Or was that just a phase I was going through, a reaction to the leftie-elitism of most of my crowd?

And I'm glad to know that it wasn't my imagination at all, that EW had good writing and commentary, once upon a time.
posted by kanewai at 4:09 PM on June 11, 2014 [7 favorites]

She's the person behind The Awl's excellent Scandals Of Classic Hollywood series and writes really engaging essays on Hollywood culture, representation, and the sociall dynamics of gossip/PR/image making.
posted by The Whelk at 4:10 PM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I loved EW during my college years, because I didn't have time for TV, but the subscriptions were basically free on any college campus (came free with a credit card, or a new bank account, or something). I read it religiously through the 1990s and loved being up on the entertainment business when I didn't have time to really even participate in it.

That was a great long profile of the rise and fall of the magazine, as well as the parent company. I long for the old 90s era EW, but I'm finding lots of great equivalents online (like The Awl Network, like I Dream of TV's newsletter, etc).
posted by mathowie at 4:16 PM on June 11, 2014

Oh, right, I should have called out that it's by Anne Helen Petersen. More of her popcult longreads here.
posted by psoas at 4:21 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had to check out Jeff Jarvis' reaction at his longtime blog 'BuzzMachine': "Even with the cringes induced with a few maddening memories, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Anne Helen Petersen’s history of Entertainment Weekly‘s life — and torture — at Time Inc." He even included a copy of his original Magazine Proposal... 1984 seems so long ago (It was).
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:26 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I too was a longtime subscriber - ten years or so - and this definitely clarifies what the heck happened that finally led me to quit it. The comment that it devolved into a "pamphlet" is spot on.
posted by schoolgirl report at 5:11 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just realized I have had a running EW subscription for over half my life. My parents got me a subscription because of my X-Files obsession and I've just always kept renewing it because it's only $10 a year. I think Owen Gleiberman being fired may be what finally gets me to cancel.

However, I am absolutely in love with EW Radio, particularly Entertainment Weirdly.
posted by MaritaCov at 6:06 PM on June 11, 2014

This reads much better to me than her Scandals of Classic Hollywood stories, which have interesting information trapped in an annoying style. YMMV.
posted by pmurray63 at 7:22 PM on June 11, 2014

I always thought that EW had managed to snap up a bunch of old Spy staff after the latter folded/got bought.
posted by lodurr at 2:31 AM on June 12, 2014

And I actually wondered, was it ever really good?

It was intentionally cheeky from the get-go. Problematically, in the beginning, that was in a sort of USA Today manner (color! short heds and articles!), but ultimately, it ended up falling prey to a sort of Sears/JCPenney syndrome in that it was a middlebrow outlet squeezed on both sides.

I generally enjoyed browsing it, say at a doctor's office, but never felt the need to subscribe -- and only purchased a few isses at POP in a lifetime. I did, however, have a subscription to Premiere, which was a notch more elitist and yet still pulled off the ironicist coverage of pop culture.
posted by dhartung at 11:24 AM on June 12, 2014

My EW subscription is mostly momentum these days, though I'd argue it was still a pretty good magazine in the 2000s, not just the 1990s. Not a *great* magazine, but was still capable of surprising with the odd feature and usually an entertaining way to get your pop culture briefing. But definitely gone down steeply in the last couple of years.
posted by tavella at 12:07 PM on June 12, 2014

Great read. I've added 'annehelenpetersen' to my MyFi tags.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:21 PM on June 15, 2014

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