Jewish World Review April 25, 2003 / 23 Nisan, 5763
Newsweeklies starting to lose interest in Iraq war
The war is officially over.
No star-spangled announcement from Washington, D.C., mind you. But Time magazine subtly signals Iraq is done, news-wise, by putting out the first non-war cover story -- women and heart disease -- since fighting began.
Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report still are picking through the rubble of Saddam's vile regime. But until we find him or his DNA, news from Iraq has entered the long, boring, nation-building phase.
Meanwhile, our brave war journalists are returning home. In an issue or two we'll be reading about the wild adventures of superstars Christopher Hitchens (in Vanity Fair) and P.J. O'Rourke (in Atlantic Monthly).
Both of them laughed and drank their way across the Iraqi theater, no doubt embedded deeply in the rear lines. But Karl Zinsmeister, the intrepid editor of conservative The American Enterprise, pulled his journo duty the hard and dusty way.
As he recounts in his cover story, "How America's SWAT Team Helped Swat Saddam," Zinsmeister left his soft and safe life in America and traveled with the 82nd Airborne.
Providing everything from sweeping historical and political perspective to accounts of street fighting in Samawah, he does a solid "you-are-here" job. He even took the good photos.
Zinsmeister dedicates his war journal to the fighting men and women of our armies and to much-loved Michael Kelly, "the truest journalist of his generation," who was killed in a Humvee accident April 3 while embedded with U.S. troops.
Kelly's death received a lot of media attention when it happened, for good reason. A tough, hard-writing Washington Post columnist and editor at large of Atlantic Monthly, he had made his name covering the first Gulf War's fighting from inside Iraq as a freelancer.
In the 1990s, Kelly edited the New Republic until his relentless anti-Bill Clintonism earned him a sacking from his publisher. He deserved all the posthumous praise he got, as former New Yorker and Talk magazine editor Tina Brown explained:
"Mike Kelly was one of those rare writers who could do all three things an editor craves: report, think, write. This might seem an obvious trio of gifts, but in fact they are a combination that is extremely hard to come by.
"Great essayists are often no good at describing a scene; great reporters are often deaf to ideas and themes. Kelly could do all of it, as I discovered with delight when he joined me at The New Yorker as Washington correspondent."
On a more brainless note, we citizens of Fly-Overia are oblivious, but the New York-L.A. axis of evil is abuzz about Radar, the long-awaited chronicler of pop culture. Its editor, ex-Talk sub-editor Maer Roshan, is not hobbled by humble aspirations.
He aims to tap into "the voice of an ascendant generation" and make Radar one of those rare titles -- like Rolling Stone in the '60s, Spy in the '80s and Vanity Fair in the '90s - "that captures a cultural moment by getting there first."
The premiere issue is dense and crazy with good stuff and bad. A piece from pre-war Baghdad is obviously dated. Radar -- which covers pop, politics, scandal and style -- might die young, as so many new mags do, but it'll die smart and sassy.
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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald