Monday, October 22, 2012

Newsweek goes digital-only

English: Cover of the January 16, 1939 issue o...

English: Cover of the January 16, 1939 issue of Newsweek magazine. The issue features Felix Frankfurter on the cover. The issue cost 10 cents. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Depending on who you talk to, Newsweek has become either a trailblazer in the future of magazine journalism or the most recent victim of a challenged news industry. When Newsweek announced it would end printing its weekly magazine at the end of the year and go digital-only, it sparked a headline in every major publication in the country. Some said Newseek was dead. Others said it was reborn. Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of the Newsweek/Daily Beast Company, and Baba Shetty, its CEO, wrote in a statement on The Daily Beast: “In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format.” The new version will be called Newsweek Global and will be available via paid subscription on the web and in e-readers. The business will continue its events division as well.

The move says something big about magazine journalism in general and newsweeklies specifically. As Emma Bazilian pointed out in an AdWeek piece: “After Newsweek, Is Writing on Wall for Newsweeklies?” At the recent American Magazine Conference in San Francisco, newsweeklies were considered as being on the frontline for digital disruption in the magazine business. According to a New York Times story, Newsweek’s total paid circulation in 2001 topped 3,158,480. By June of this year, circulation had fallen by more than half to 1,527,157. But then there’s the opportunity that cutting that kind of business – the kind that relies on print circulation – helps put the focus on the future. Brown noted in her statement that The Daily Beast is up to more than 15 million unique visitors a month – a 70 percent increase in the last year. She attributes the traffic jump to “Newsweek’s strong original journalism.” She wrote, “It is important that we underscore what this digital transition means and, as importantly, what it does not. We are transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it.”


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