Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What I Learned This Week from "The Week" Magazine

The Week has been one of my favorite magazines for a long time. As part of some cost-cutting measures, I let the subscription lapse a while back due to its hefty price tag. A recent Groupon for a subscription popped up so I had to jump on it. Why? Unlike many magazines, The Week isn’t discounted regularly. You won't be able to find it for $6 or $12 for a year like most popular magazines.

What The Week does best is compile and synopsize. Before the days of the news deluge and the prevalence of websites, blogs and their aggregating brethren to compile everything you want to read into a giant bloated screen of information, I got my news from The Week. The Week selects the most important items then breaks them down to nuggets of news and opinions for quick and easy consumption.

Online, there are similar places to get this type of writing.
The Atlantic Wire does this in a more immediate Internet-fashion for free, yet many stories benefit from a gestation period before the opinions start flying. And what you can learn from reading The Week on important issues is your time can be better served by reading the outcome of the story rather than checking second-by-second tweeted updates from a bevy of possibly unconfirmed or unsubstantiated news sources. The public’s immediate response to all stories makes it sometimes impossible to repeal the hangover effect that linger when unsubstantiated reports turn out to be untrue. If they are reported on too heavily and too quickly, they become tiresome and lost in the shuffle with the population’s ever-shrinking attention span.

Arriving like clockwork every Friday in my mailbox, I opened this week's issue to discover recaps on the power struggle in Yemen, how the Obama Osama bump has quickly dissipated, and a reexamination of the withdrawal timeline in Afghanistan. I felt smarter already.

Next a collection of finer, quick, bullet points of silly news stories alongside boring but important stories that should matter to all. Following that, a page of US based specific stories and a two-page spread of world stories pointing to their location on the map giving readers a bonus piece of geography education (I'm as guilty as the next guy so don't lie to me and tell me you can point out Yemen on a map!)

The breakdowns continue into standard newspaper sections like business, arts & drama, and a bit of celebrity news. A highlighted selection of the best political cartoons, a rundown of what is actually worth watching on TV this week, quick new release capsule reviews in film, music, and books, unique travel and gift ideas, a snappy food section with a feature on local honey beers, and an interesting real estate section of the best properties on the market for the weekly chosen group. This time it is "Homes for Sculpture Collectors."

Finishing up, there are a few obituaries, a sum up of the top columns from around the globe and one abridged version of an extended highlighted piece of writing and a news-related crossword puzzle that you can probably only finish if you actually read the magazine. All of it short, quick, informative bursts that read as streamlined yet not rushed. It's the perfect confluence of information for overworked minds that want to know what's going on in this world but can't find the time to follow it all on a consistent basis.

Here are some interesting notes from this week's The Week:

  • From the Chicago Tribune: For the first time last year, American's surpassed the French as the wine consumption leaders even though the US population is five times the French population. Americans hate everything French except Wine and if we are going to drink it, we better drink more than they do!
  • From Those newish fun fees on baggage, extra legroom and food provided a $21.5 billion dollar in income for airlines last year.
  • A collection of wonderful quotes including one from Mignon McLaughlin in the Bismarck Tribune (the one newspaper I never miss reading), "No one really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you'll see why." and Jimmy Cannon from the Wall Street Journal, "Sports is the toy department of life."
  • I heard this one on NPR too but the SlutWalks protests are branching across the world like wildfire.
  • A new Swedish study says couples are 40 percent more likely to split up if one partner has a commute longer than 45 minutes each way.
  • A reminder that I really want to see the film Submarine and read "The Sisters Brothers" by Patrick DeWitt.
  • An list of apps for finding cheap gas like GasBuddy, Poynt, iGasUp and more.
  • Jack Kevorkian died last week.
By the end of the average fifty page issue, you feel like you have just got enough of anything. Time to dispose of Time and disregard the blabbing columnists in Newsweek because spending a Saturday afternoon on the porch or in the park reading The Week will be your new favorite pastime.

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