The internets are abuzz this morning with the news that Newsweek will cease publishing it’s print edition at the end of the year. The goal, according to editor Tina Brown in a letter on the Daily Beast site is to create a one stop shop. She described it this way:
Newsweek Global, as the all-digital publication will be named, will be a single, worldwide edition targeted for a highly mobile, opinion-leading audience who want to learn about world events in a sophisticated context. Newsweek Global will be supported by paid subscription and will be available through e-readers for both tablet and the Web, with select content available on The Daily Beast.
You can place the blame for the death of the print edition of Newsweek at the feet of whichever bugaboo you want to choose. The Twitterverse has been chock full of reasons. Heck, even God Almighty has chimed in:
It could be the economy. Or the weak newsstand market (Highly unlikely. Newsstand was less than 3% of their overall circulation). Or the high cost of printing and shipping a print weekly. Or the decline in print advertising. Or hideously cheap subscriptions. Or all of the above. Or none of the above.
Let’s get real here. Even at it’s peak, Newsweek was always an also ran to Time Magazine. The newsweekly magazine market was never deep (Time, Newsweek, US News and….) so the fact that we are down to one domestically produced newsweekly in this current market is not that shocking. Did anyone really think that a stand alone weekly news publication could survive on it’s own? Did someone really think that the Daily Beast was the solution to it’s problem?
I subscribed to Newsweek during a brief period in the 1980’s and again in the 1990’s. My rational for the second go round, was that I needed a new digital clock and the price was right (It was cheap). I’ve picked it up infrequently over the past decade as something to read on a flight that was cheaper than my usual “go to” for a long plane ride, The Economist. Invariably, I had buyers remorse shortly after flipping past the front cover. So let me present you with my reasons for why this magazine has finally died:
If no one wants to read your content, no one is going to read your content. At a certain point, weak magazines can not hide and there is no escape from declining subscribers, declining newsstand, falling ad sales.
Yes, it’s sad to see the end of Newsweek. But it’s not shocking, earth shattering or the precursor of something important or dramatic.