While I was away Joanne Sharp wrote with news of her experience with CNN… Reader’s Digest is in trouble, and readers will surely know of Jo’s Condensing the Cold War: Reader’s Digest and American Identity (University of Minnesota Press, 2000). So CNN asked her for a commentary, which you can find here; here’s the conclusion:
Perhaps the decline of Reader’s Digest’s fortunes was inevitable with the longer-term social and political influences of 60s counterculture, the failure of general interest magazines, the rise of global media targeted at specific niches and the advent of the internet. But of equal importance was the end of the Soviet threat: With the fall of its arch enemy, the Evil Empire, there was no mirror against which it could present an alternative image of America and its historic mission.
As Jo ruefully notes, there is an irony in all this (and not only in being asked to condense her Condensing, if you see what I mean): ‘something that was rushed together between 1 and 4am (in Helsinki – I didn’t even have my notes!) – has reached a far larger audience than anything I’ve spent months sweating over.’ But, as she also notes, some of the online comments would provide material for another essay….