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Newsweek to end print publication in December after nearly 80 years, go all digital



newsweek-muslim-rage-2.jpgPerhaps now people will stop snarking about their provocative covers.

Newsweek announced this morning that it will close down publication of of its print magazine on Dec. 31, creating a new subscription-fueled online presence while focusing on its tablet and digital platforms.

The new digital publication, Newsweek Global, will be funded by subscriptions for tablet and the website, with select content made available 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," read today's announcement, signed by editor Tina Brown and CEO Baba Shetty. "This was not the case just two years ago. It will increasingly be the case in the years ahead."

Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker magazines, has taken hits in the past for attention-getting covers, including one focused last month on "Muslim rage," and another featuring Princess Diana, photoshopped into a picture with Kate Middleton and aged to appear as she might look if she were alive today.

Both Newsweek and Time have competed with button-pushing covers in the U.S., but that hasn't kept Newsweek's circulation from dropping 51 percent since 2007, according to figures published by the Poynter Institute

diana-newsweek.jpgBrown and Shetty's memo also foreshadows staff reductions, and there's no information on whether the amount of material now available on the free Daily Beast will shrink. Expect lots of gossipy reporting on who gets to stay and who will leave the operation as it reconfigures itself.

Brown seems to be pinning Newsweek's future on the migration of wealthy media consumers to tablets and smartphones, noting a Pew Research Center study last month which held 39 percent of Americans say they get news from an online source.

But even though she says the Daily Beast's unique visitors have risen 70 percent in the past year, how many of those visitors will be willing to pay whatever Newsweek Global charges to access its content?

And is Newsweek's move to digital a watershed moment for the newsmagazine business, or just a sign that Brown's strategies have failed?

[Last modified: Thursday, October 18, 2012 8:08am]


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