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Time Inc. Ad Slump 'Like 1931' Just as Magazine Recalls Great Depression

     Time Inc. is facing an advertising ‘depression,’ which might explain its magazine’s recent obsession with the Great Depression and the 1930s.


     Time’s Oct. 27 issue – the one with FDR, Abraham Lincoln and the two presidential candidates – was on newsstands the same week CEO Ann Moore told attendees of an Oct. 30 ABC Circulation Conference that, “By this October it was looking like 1931,” Foliomag.com reported. “[Time Inc.] has never had so many advertising clients in trouble at the same time. The declines are stunning.”


     Moore’s speech came just two days after she announced “dramatic restructuring” and “significant layoffs” for the company, which owns magazines including Time, Fortune/Money, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly and People among a host of others.


     Like the rest of the mainstream media, Time magazine has drawn many comparisons to the Great Depression this year. A “history” column by David M. Kennedy in the same Oct. 27 issue said, “Today’s crisis isn’t a repeat of the Depression. But we can still borrow lessons from the past.”


     “What is now manifestly needed is a round of creative institutional invention like what the New Deal gave us,” Kennedy, a Stanford University history professor and Pulitzer-winning author, wrote. Like others in the news media, Kennedy’s call for a new, New Deal ignored economists who say that FDR’s policies actually prolonged the Depression – extending Americans’ intense suffering for roughly seven years.


      Economist Roberts Higgs told the Business & Media Institute a new, New Deal would be disastrous. “I cannot imagine a worse course of action, short of outright socialization of the entire economy. The measures comprised in a new, New Deal will not hasten general economist recovery, but will only bulk up the power of government and transfer income to privileged interest groups at the expense of taxpayers and consumers,” Higgs said.


     Yet, the mainstream media have promoted that by comparing the Great Depression to the 2008 economic downturn hundreds of times. On the networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) alone, there were 70 comparisons in the first six months of 2008. Since July 1 that number more than doubled to 157.