What’s the place for a news weekly in today’s "24 x 7" news cycle? None at all, concluded the powers that be at Newsweek.
This morning, the venerable 80 year institution announced it will be shutting down the print publication with its December 31st issue and transition to an “all digital format in early 2013,” shared Newsweek editor Tina Brown.
Merging content with the Daily Beast web site founded by Brown, the all digital version of the mag will go by the name Newsweek Global and command a paid subscription for access. The combo Newsweek/Daily Beast site now attracts more than 15 million unique visitors a month, up 70 percent in the last year, shared Brown and new CEO Baba Shetty in this morning’s memo to staff and the media. And with the ever increasing number and lowered costs of digital platform alternatives – especially tablets from Apple (with a lower cost iPad Mini to be sprung October 23), Amazon, Samsung, Barnes and Noble and Microsoft (momentarily) – the writing is clearly on the wall.
“Currently, 39 percent of Americans say they get their news from an online source, according to a Pew Research Center study released last month,” cited this morning’s announcement. “In our judgement, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in an all-digital format. This was not the case just two years ago. It will increasingly be the case in the years ahead.“
Founded in 1933, Newsweek competed for decades with Time magazine as the most reliable “one stop shopping” place for national and international news and analysis. But both publications have struggled to adapt in the Internet age – with Brown imposing some outrageous cover ideas on Newsweek (like May's “Obama – First Gay President”) to draw attention and readers.
The 2010 purchase of the weekly by 92 year old audio magnate Sidney Harman (he paid $1 but assumed lots of debt) was seen as a bit of a reprieve. But after Harman’s death in the spring of 2011 his heirs started to lose interest and sold off their rights to Daily Beast owner/partner IAC/InterActive Corps, whose chairman Barry Diller expressed dismay over Newsweek’s reported $40 million a year losses. Speaking on the public radio business show “Marketplace,” Diller declared he’s not one to hold on to a property for sentimental value: “Sell it, write it off, go on to the next thing.”