A hurried businessman runs across the airport at a
full sprint. If he doesn’t get to Gate D3 in three minutes, he will miss his flight to Singapore. As he is running, little beads of sweat begin to form on his brow. People gawk at him and hurl insults his way when he bumps past them with seemingly no thought. All of a sudden, the man stops in full stride, whining to a stop. He breathes heavily and looks to his right. How can he go on the plane without something to read? Quickly the man bounds over to the news stand and looks at the plethora of reading materials. News looks appealing. Grabbing a local newspaper and a copy of Newsweek, the man tries to decide which one to buy. The dullness of the newspaper or the bright colors and in-depth stories of Newsweek? Grinning with satisfaction, he grabs the Newsweek and leaps away to catch his flight. Newsweek has delivered news to readers for over 60 years. Color pictures, bright cover pages, in-depth stories on a multitude of subjects, and scores of advertisements littered throughout are just a few of the many things that Newsweek brags over the simplicity of a black and white newspaper. During the 1940’s was Newsweek the same? Did it try to appeal to the same audience or try to reflect an accurate picture of what was going on in the world? Was the content of the magazine different in any way? Newsweek during the 1940’s varied greatly from that of the 1990’s in a variety of ways, yet had the same goal throughout its existence, to sell and make money.
Red borders and red lettering adorned the cover of Newsweek during the 1940’s. Below the main title was the phrase “Magazine of news significance ” which is what everyone associated with Newsweek. Newsweek was a newsmagazine that delivered news and pertinent information to the general public. Because a newspaper is released every day while a newsmagazine like Newsweek is released once a week, why would people want old news? Newsweek prided itself on in-depth stories that newspapers did not provide the readers with. Also, it provided the reader with color, which no newspapers had during the time. During the 40’s, the world was going through a horrible time known as World War II. Everyone lived in fear from one day to the next, whether it be from fear of bomb scares to fear of the death of a loved one fighting overseas. Newsweek tried to ease this fear that the American public felt by reporting on everything that was going on during the war including maps of the war effort, interviews with soldiers, and intimate notes from the President himself. The main focus of Newsweek thus during the 40’s was on the war, covering almost every aspect of it. There occasionally would be little blurbs about affairs within the United States, but that was rare.
War appealed to men, since men were primarily the ones involved with it. Men were still the heads of every aspect of society in the 1940’s. The view of women was for them to stay in the house and cook and clean. Women were not trusted to be able to make important decisions and were not included in any form of corporate business. This fact caused Newsweek to appeal to the male audience, since even the women were seen as slightly illiterate and not able to fully understand the affairs of the world. Mixed throughout the magazine were advertisements for whiskey and alcohol products, cigarettes such as Lucky Strike, ball bearings, tractors and other farm equipment, and motor vehicles. Also the advertisements would include text below it such as “For the serious man” or “Only real men use ____” which showed how much Newsweek was trying to appeal to men.
Men during the 1940’s loved to read long text articles about a subject. Very few pictures were littered throughout the magazine, and what pictures there were had a small space designated for each. The advertisements for products such as ball bearings or cigarettes had page-long text articles with a description of the product as well as its wonderful characteristics. It took a normal reader approximately 4-5 minutes to read one advertisement in Newsweek. The pictures that were in there only lightly highlighted the text. Some were in color, while most where in black and white. The maps and important features were highlighted in red, a commonly used color throughout a Newsweek issue.
Newsweek changed rapidly over the decades and in 1990 it has experienced significant change from its earlier ancestor of the 1940’s. The 1990’s have been a time of monumental events in American history. The Gulf War, first President to formally suffer through the impeachment process, Oklahoma City bombing, and many others are only a few of the many events that have added themselves to history. Newsweek was there to cover them all, from a million different angles. Not anymore was there a huge war that they could focus all their attention on like World War II, but there were always more subtle stories that could be covered.
Along with a shift in stories, Newsweek also underwent a face-lift in its appearance. The front cover no longer is simply red and black but instead contains millions of colors with many different pictures on it, instead of just one. The pages of Newsweek turned from being a paper-like material to a more plastic-like feel, which is much more durable and less likely to rip. Color within the magazine is used much more frequently. All pictures are in color and even some normally black text contains color between the lines. The color factor as well as the general appearance of Newsweek has changed much from that of the 1940’s.
The drastic change in the use of color also shows the shift in priorities of the American public. People are no longer interested in reading long articles with lots of text and few pictures. Instead they look to have the pictures tell them the story, with some text there in case the picture captures their attention. Patience to read an entire article is rarely found among people of the 1990’s. They are too busy and consider themselves to have no time to sit down and read a Newsweek full of text. Newsweek has picked up on this and religiously scatters multiple images on each and every page. Advertisements also have changed in that they contain no long text. A typical advertisement will be a large picture to cover the page and a little short slogan below it such as “Just do it!”
Though the differences between the Newsweek of the 1940’s and of the 1990’s are great, they have one common goal which is to deliver news to people and sell money. Newsweek will always conform to the society of the day, whatever that may be. Reading between the lines of a Newsweek will show a reader the social trends and important aspects of the society of the time. Stories may change, pictures may increase or decrease, format of the magazine might be altered, but Newsweek will always reflect what is important to society and will invariably be a small window to see the world.