Newsweek Going Digital, In an admission that news is not enough, and a week is much too long, one of the most well-known print magazines of the past 100 years is shutting down shop. Newsweek will no longer exist as a paper magazine, its editor announced on Thursday. The final print edition will be dated Dec. 31. The new, digital-only version, called Newsweek Global, will run on a paid-subscription model.
First edition of Newsweek Magazine – Vol. I , No. 1. The exact day of release was February 17, 1933 and it cost 10 cents. Seven photographs from the week’s news were printed on the first issue’s cover. It was called News-Week.
Paul Heron is the president of Complex2Clear, a Toronto-based marketing communications firm that does everything from webdesign to b2b marketing to bid writing for clients like Bombardier and General Motors of Canada Rosa Park
The publication, which merged with Web-only news start-up The Daily Beast two years ago, has had a difficult time squaring its history of serious weekly news analysis and its present as yet-another-player in the noisy, always-on world of Internet-based news.
Along with rumours (since denied) that Britain’s Guardian newspaper was also about to suspend its print edition, the death of one of the English-speaking world’s most recognizable magazines cast a pall over the entire industry, with observers speculating as to which domino might fall next. Although virtually all traditional newspapers also operate online editions – and are increasingly demanding fees for access to digital content – few have dared to shut down their presses altogether. The big unknown is whether what was once called “print journalism” can survive if and when more of the dominoes tumble.
“We’ve taken the big digital step,” Daily Beast founder Tina Brown said in an interview with her publication. “It’s really only a question of when, at this point in the print industry. We’re seeing a huge industry-wide change.”
For more than half a decade, Newsweek has been slowly losing money and subscribers. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the magazine’s circulation has also dropped by about half over the past five years.
Founded in 1933 by former Time editor Thomas Martyn, Newsweek would be celebrating its 80th birthday next year. Since the early 1960s, it had been owned by the Washington Post Company, which sold it to Montreal-born audio tycoon Sidney Harman in 2010, the year before his death. He bought it for $1, on the condition he assume all liabilities. The magazine was losing $10-million a quarter.
Ms. Brown founded the Daily Beast website four years ago. Two years ago, shortly after Mr. Harman bought it, Newsweek was merged with the Daily Beast, and Ms. Brown served as the editor of both publications.
Ms. Brown, whose background includes stints at Vanity Fair and The New Yorker but who was unable to spark much of a turnaround at Newsweek, sought to frame the move as a transition, rather than a farewell. But it is clear that a digital-only Newsweek is largely the result of poor print revenue, and that the move will entail job cuts.
Originally from England, Ms. Brown made a name for herself in the U.S. magazine industry through the 1980s and ’90s by adding equal parts whimsy, innovation and literary flair to what she saw as overly humourless publications. The Daily Beast – whose motto is “Read This Skip That” – represents an extension of that philosophy into the digital age, with short snappy articles on topics both serious and irreverent. But that approach, when applied to Newsweek, seemed to jar with both the magazine’s history and its editorial tone.
For decades, and well into the 1990s and early 2000s, Newsweek occupied a central place in American news analysis, alongside Time magazine. But that role in the public discourse has shrunk, as readers can now turn to myriad sources of analysis almost in real-time, rather than waiting a week.
In recent years, Newsweek’s editors have sought what appears to be an unworkable balance. On one hand, the magazine attempted to use its reputation for serious news analysis. But the pressures of creating buzz-worthy articles for the Internet age often forced the magazine to make editorial choices that arguably diluted that reputation. In one frequently mocked cover story, a headline simply blared, “Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience Of The Afterlife.” Recently, the magazine generated yet more derision when it published a story on “Muslim Rage” that was seen by some as controversial for controversy’s sake. Indeed, much of Newsweek’s editorial direction in the past two years has appeared to mimic that of The Daily Beast, which specializes in easily digestible, readily tweetable stories.
Newsweek’s demise as a print publication was a virtually inevitable consequence of the worldwide shift to digital media, according to Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University.
“It was based on a model that just doesn’t make sense in an Internet news economy,” Mr. Benton said, noting that the magazine did not appear frequently enough to function in an 24-hour news cycle – and not infrequently enough “to make an issue an event” the way monthlies are sometimes able to do.