Newsweek magazine is a renowned American news magazine which is published in the city of New York and distributed internationally. It is one of the ‘Big Three’ weekly news magazines that have the largest circulation in the US. The magazine was launched by in 1933 under the name News-week but later changed to Newsweek in 1937 after the merger with Today magazine. It was at this time that Newsweek started to distinguish itself from its competitors by taking a more liberal approach but at the same time took a more serious tone and went into in depth analysis. This was also the time when Newsweek identified and targeted readers outside the United States by launching its international edition.
In the 1950s when the civil rights movement and questions on racial equality were some of the hottest topics among Americans, Newsweek is renowned as one of the publications that took the issue of racial segregation by devoting a large part of each release to the issue of racial diversity. This liberal leaning might have played an important role in the acquisition of Newsweek by the Washington Post in 1961 proving to be an almost natural match of the two publications. Katherine Graham, the Washington Post’s famous publisher at the time, tried to push Newsweek even more on the liberal side.
By the mid 1960’s, Newsweek was at the fore front on debate around the controversial Vietnam War by pushing the envelope on the concept of advocacy journalism. Whereas the traditional form of journalism stresses objective reporting where facts are presented and the audience is left to make its own interpretation, in advocacy journalism the journalists integrates their own opinion into the story e.g. asserting a certain action is wrong and stating what needs to be done in order to correct it.
This form of journalism Advocacy journalism was not widely known, used or understood at the time. Even though Newsweek cannot necessarily be credited with being the first publication to pursue advocacy journalism, the broad readership of the paper played a part in encouraging the use of advocacy journalism in the main stream media. Perhaps one of the most famous examples of advocacy journalism from Newsweek at the time was a piece they ran on the Vietnam War where the magazine put forward its case on why the War was unnecessary and that a withdrawal was the best thing to do.
The breadth of Newsweek today is miles ahead of where it was then. As at 2005, Newsweek had a 20 million strong audience in the United States alone and a worldwide readership of 26 million spread across 190 countries. It is now published in several other languages and boasts four regional editions named as Atlantic, Latin America Asia and Australia. As many of the largest magazines and newspaper houses fumbled on whether to embrace or resist technology advances, Newsweek was again one of the first in taking a bold step into the digital unknown when it introduced a CD-ROM version in the 1990s distributed to its readers quarterly.