Saturday, 19 Jan 2019

Imperiled Weekly Standard magazine can get a reprieve

Weekly Standard co-founder Bill Kristol said Thursday that information about the disappearance of the publication has sparked "buy or buy" offers from the magazine. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

The weekly standard can live to fight another day.

The future of the conservative political and cultural magazine seemed threatened this week by the review of its owner of a restructuring plan likely to restructure it.

The owner of the Standard, Clarity Media Group – which in turn belongs to billionaire Philip Anschutz – wants to develop his other Washington-based conservative publication, The Washington Examiner, a move that could leave no room for the Standard losing money .

Clarity was opaque about her plans, beyond a simple statement earlier this week: "It's no secret that news agencies in the US are facing a changing business landscape. The weekly standard deals with these same problems. Clarity Media explored a number of possibilities regarding the future of the weekly standard. Currently, Clarity has no news to share on the evaluation process. "

However, Standard founding editor Bill Kristol said Thursday that information about the disappearance of the publication had sparked a "burst of gratifying support and, in fact, offers of purchase or assistance to the "purchase" magazine. "So, that's good," he said.

Kristol refused to name the interested parties.

He then modified his comment to indicate that there had been "expressions of interest on the part of serious people – not all offers yet, but we will see".

In both cases, any interest in the standard would be a step forward. The editor, Stephen F. Hayes, would have bought the publication early in the year but would not have seemed to find a willing buyer.

Staff members say that they do not know if Clarity wants to sell the magazine, fold it or incorporate it one way or another into the Washington Examiner. The examiner is reorganizing his own magazine and would benefit from the Weekly Standard subscription list. The standard has about 48,000 subscribers.

The Standard distinguished itself from other conservative publications, including the Washington Examiner, by its skepticism towards President Trump and sometimes even by his blatant opposition to President Trump.

Under Hayes, he maintained his traditional criticism of Democrats while publishing a number of investigative and reporting investigations that demonstrate his independence from Trump and his policies. A recent editorial, for example, criticized Trump's rhetoric about Saudi Arabia following the assassination of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post.

This approach did not, however, generate strong growth in digital traffic. According to the comScore tracking firm, the Weekly Standard website attracted only 822,000 unique visitors in April, nearly half of the monthly total recorded at Trump's January 2017 inauguration. has gradually caught up with this lost ground before jumping to 2.8 million and 2.6 million unique visitors, respectively, in September and October, the first month in which ComScore started to include the flow of traffic to Snapchat's editors .

The print magazine, published 48 times a year, lost about 10% of its circulation during the Trump period.

Kristol co-founded this publication in 1995 with journalists Fred Barnes and John Podhoretz, with financial support from Rupert Murdoch. The Standard quickly became one of the voices of the neoconservative movement and strongly supported the invasion of Iraq by the United States under President George W. Bush.

Murdoch sold his interest to Anschutz in 2009. Barnes is the editor and Podhoretz contributes to film reviews. Kristol, who resigned as editor in late 2016, remains a writer and editor for the magazine. He also contributes to CNN, where he frequently criticizes Trump.

The possible disappearance of the magazine has alarmed conservative personalities and journalists on Twitter.

Conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt gave the magazine a boost, tweeting"@Weeklystandard is a great magazine full of great writing and analysis. Let's hope that @JeffBezos is available to buy it and that @stephenfhayes and his gang remain in the game for decades. It's a big, serious brand. The public mind needs a deep pocket. "

(Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, owns the Washington Post).

Politico columnist Jack Shafer was more concise. He tweeted"We will miss the @weeklystandard when he is gone."


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