Parade: your grandfather’s news magazine

By Steve Outing

Tens of millions of people were treated to an example of print media’s slide toward irrelevance this morning. Parade magazine, which is inserted in Sunday papers across the US, offered up its cover story about Benazir Bhutto: “Is Benazir Bhuto America’s best hope against al-Qaeda?” (Only if you believe in reincarnation.)

The story, an interview by Gail Sheehy done prior to Bhutto’s death, is particularly relevant now. But it needed to be reworked to acknowledge the assassination, of course.

This sort of thing happens frequently to newspapers, when something big breaks overnight and the morning paper is outdated. A big event has taken place and most everyone already knows about it from the Internet, TV and radio — but the newspaper looks clueless due to bad timing.

But this? Bhutto was assassinated on December 27. Parade shows up in newspapers with this embarrassingly outdated story 10 DAYS later! And not even an editor’s note is inserted at the last minute explaining the situation. That’s sad. (Parade’s website, of course, does acknowledge the assassination, and explains its publishing schedule and why what people received in print is so outdated. And some newspapers ran editor’s notes along with the copy of today’s Parade — though not my local paper.)

Should I not be so harsh, since obviously Parade has a print publishing schedule that’s got lots of lead time built in? (The January 6 edition was printed December 21.) I understand that, but I don’t sympathize.

It’s now painfully obvious that Parade needs to modernize and seriously tighten up its print schedule. I’m sure that the magazine is printed well in advance because that’s the way it’s been done for decades; newspapers need it well in advance to insert it in Sunday feature sections, which are produced in advance of the Sunday news sections. Changing it probably would be arduous and expensive. But the world has changed, and Parade needs to change.

I really think that gone are the days when a publication that wants to cover news can afford the luxury of a 2-week print cycle. Parade can either stick to “evergreen” stories — like others in today’s edition: “Why Do We Forget Things?” and “Feel Secure About Your Money” — or modernize. That it purports to include news-related coverage on a 2-week publishing schedule just sets itself up to be embarrassed in an age of ubiquitous instant news.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

14 Responses to "Parade: your grandfather’s news magazine"

  1. Jesse Sarles
    Jesse Sarles 9 years ago .Reply

    This was an amazing thing to see on the cover of Parade this morning when we got our paper. What a shocking thing to have someone who had been killed featured in such a way. My wife and I did double and triple-takes when we saw this cover. Glad to know we weren’t the only ones whose jaws dropped.

    – Jesse Sarles

  2. Jesse Sarles
    Jesse Sarles 9 years ago .Reply

    This was an amazing thing to see on the cover of Parade this morning when we got our paper. What a shocking thing to have someone who had been killed featured in such a way. My wife and I did double and triple-takes when we saw this cover. Glad to know we weren't the only ones whose jaws dropped. – Jesse Sarles

  3. JohnofScribbleSheet
    JohnofScribbleSheet 9 years ago .Reply

    The whole episode was a bit of a joke. Egg all over their faces.

  4. JohnofScribbleSheet
    JohnofScribbleSheet 9 years ago .Reply

    The whole episode was a bit of a joke. Egg all over their faces.

  5. […] Steve Outing » Parade: your grandfather’s news magazine “Bhutto was assassinated on December 27. Parade magazine shows up in newspapers with this embarrassingly outdated story 10 DAYS later! And not even an editor’s note is inserted at the last minute explaining the situation. That’s sad.” (tags: magazines timeliness tidbits+fodder problems journalism) […]

  6. […] Steve Outing » Parade: your grandfather’s news magazine Bhutto was assassinated on December 27. Parade shows up in newspapers with this embarrassingly outdated story 10 DAYS later! […]

  7. […] In my daily links post today, I noted Steve Outing’s spot-on Jan 6 critique of this weekend’s gaffe by Parade Magazine — the popular full-color, feature-rich magazine wedged into already-bloated Sunday papers around the country. Here’s Outing’s description of what happened: “Tens of millions of people were treated to an example of print media’s slide toward irrelevance this morning. Parade magazine, which is inserted in Sunday papers across the US, offered up its cover story about Benazir Bhutto: ‘Is Benazir Bhuto America’s best hope against al-Qaeda?’ (Only if you believe in reincarnation.) […]

  8. Lori
    Lori 9 years ago .Reply

    People actually *read* Parade? Really? That superficial waste of perfectly good trees has been irrelevant for decades…

  9. Lori
    Lori 9 years ago .Reply

    People actually *read* Parade? Really? That superficial waste of perfectly good trees has been irrelevant for decades…

  10. TK
    TK 9 years ago .Reply

    The quality of Parade overall is separate from the issue of publication.

    Let’s say a blogger got an interview with Bhutto shortly before her death but for reasons not out of the realm of possibility could not shovel the raw audio or a text transcript onto the Web until after she was assassinated.

    Would there be an outcry of similar proportions? Would we pillory the blogger for failing to delete the files from his or her drive instead of posting Bhutto’s words for our reflection and comment?

    The Web is clogged with commentary and reporting that is outdated since its publication, yet one Google search away from our desktops. That does not make online journalism irrelevant: For the discerning user, it is all the more enlightening.

    I’m a managing editor in a medium metro market and received one phone call of complaint on the Parade insert out of 140,000 copies sold Sunday. We run a 24-7 operation in a very competitive market with strong broadcast sites and proliferating citizen media. I’m grateful that some readers apparently still understand that they can find some meaning in journalism published outside this cycle.

    Our newspaper ran a front-page explanation of the Parade feature and our decision to pass Parade along to readers despite the fact that the subject had been killed and the story outdated. Journalism hardened into history before print publication in this case. But what’s the harm?

  11. TK
    TK 9 years ago .Reply

    The quality of Parade overall is separate from the issue of publication. Let's say a blogger got an interview with Bhutto shortly before her death but for reasons not out of the realm of possibility could not shovel the raw audio or a text transcript onto the Web until after she was assassinated. Would there be an outcry of similar proportions? Would we pillory the blogger for failing to delete the files from his or her drive instead of posting Bhutto's words for our reflection and comment? The Web is clogged with commentary and reporting that is outdated since its publication, yet one Google search away from our desktops. That does not make online journalism irrelevant: For the discerning user, it is all the more enlightening. I'm a managing editor in a medium metro market and received one phone call of complaint on the Parade insert out of 140,000 copies sold Sunday. We run a 24-7 operation in a very competitive market with strong broadcast sites and proliferating citizen media. I'm grateful that some readers apparently still understand that they can find some meaning in journalism published outside this cycle. Our newspaper ran a front-page explanation of the Parade feature and our decision to pass Parade along to readers despite the fact that the subject had been killed and the story outdated. Journalism hardened into history before print publication in this case. But what's the harm?

  12. […] But it was apparently too late to do anything about the print edition, which is distributed with about 400 American Sunday newspapers. Despite explanations run by several newspapers that distribute the title, dozens have gone online to register their complaints in the story’s comments section, and some media pundits are now criticising the magazine for not being able to react to a story because of its long lead time. […]

  13. Charlie Meyerson
    Charlie Meyerson 9 years ago .Reply

    This situation is reminiscent of poor timing that smacked the publishers of Superman in 1963, just after the assassination of JFK:

    http://www.comicmix.com/news/2007/04/30/mike-gold-would-superman-trust-the-president/

    Did Parade learn nothing then? Hah?

  14. Charlie Meyerson
    Charlie Meyerson 9 years ago .Reply

    This situation is reminiscent of poor timing that smacked the publishers of Superman in 1963, just after the assassination of JFK: http://www.comicmix.com/news/2007/04/30/mike-gold… Did Parade learn nothing then? Hah?

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