Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Reader's Undigestible

I'm still mourning the devolution of Reader's Digest, now the People Lite of magazines.

I grew up on the "old" RD -- the one with words on the cover instead of meaningless slogans and Hollywoodites. It was the first magazine I remember buying with my own money as a kid; the one I was impatient to get my hands on two weeks before the next issue came out.

The original RD stuck up for old-fashioned American values like honesty, strength in times of trial, kindness to strangers, and constitutional government. The research was sound and trustworthy, the dramas real, the content substantive.

I was talking with a contributing editor of the Old RD a couple of years ago, and he sorrowfully informed me the changes -- the transformation from substance to fluff -- were intentional. The first thing cut was the fact-checking department. The "old-schoolers" were phased out.

When subscriptions dropped from 16 million to 9 million, the new ownership said it was part of the plan to make the magazine "more manageable."

And so a bright candle has been snuffed.

4 Comments:

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous Josef said...

I totally agree w/ you. I used to enjoy them - and I have one about the French judge/investigator hunting down terrorists a few years back.

Free advice, friend: Start your own. Call me up. Call up eight other good writers and go from there.

My .02 - being that I come by here 2-3X a day and consider THAT my eReaders Digest :-).

 
At 9:54 AM, Blogger I am Coyote said...

Touche' Marsha!

I had no tpicked up a RD since I was in the Army back in the early eighties. Then just a few years ago I happened to pick one up in a hospital waiting room.

I was stunned, and wondering if it was just me. Now I know it wasn't.

It was like seeing a nephew at a family gathering, after years of seperation since the last time you had seen him. You know? You know how it is when you totally miss the evolution and just stumble on the change all at once?

How sad.

 
At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Jeff said...

You summed it up so well. I grew up on RD during the 70's and it's the first non-kid magazine I can remember having my own subscription to (in college, no less). It truly was a joy for someone who enjoyed diverse subjects and reading as a hobby. I continued to be an eager cover-to-cover reader through the 80's and most of the 90's. Then, it started changing, plus the cost of a subscription shot up. It wasn't the $'s nearly as much as the quality that killed my subscription after 25 years.

 
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