Alumnus Joe Klein Hits Newsweek Reporting Cutbacks, Design

Newsweek alumnus Joe Klein, now writing for rival Time, says his former employers have suffered from reporting cutbacks and a poor redesign.

Asked to weigh in on the slew of buyers bidding for Newsweek, Klein declined to speculate. But he did offer views on what he sees as the news weekly's problems that might have led to a sale.

“I think that they have been cutting back on their reporting, which is sad,” he told me. “They have had to cut back a little more than we have.”

Klein, who has been at Time since 2003, worked at Newsweek from 1992 to 1996. It was there that he penned the novel, 'Primary Colors.' His failure to disclose his authorship led to his departure.

In between the two weeklies, he wrote for The New Yorker.

“I read it, I like it,” he said of Newsweek. “But to me, my true alma maters are Rolling Stone and The New Yorker that really stress good writing and reporting with attitude.”

Klein also said Newsweek's redesign in recent years is less-appealing: “I don't like the way it looks, the redesign kind of looks like an advertorial.”

Still, he stressed the importance of reporting and writing for today's news weeklies, particularly Time and Newsweek: “I think the path we have taken to do more journalism where people go out, do reporting and have an opinion about it is working. Good journalism is what is working for us.”

He also said the web is important: “We have a strong web presence; I blog and there are things I like about it and things I don't.”

But he added that he wants Newsweek to survive and thrive: “As far as I am concerned, a strong Newsweek is going to keep us on our toes. I don't know who [the buyer] would be. That is not my area of expertise. But if we are going to survive, we have to do what we do well, which is reporting and writing.”