Newsweek will end its print publication after 80 years and shift to an all-digital format in early 2013.
Its last U.S. print edition will be its Dec. 31 issue. The paper version of Newsweek is the latest casualty of a changing world where readers get more of their information from websites, tablets and smartphones. It’s also an environment in which advertisers are looking for less expensive alternatives online.
Newsweeklies have been in an especially tough spot at a time when people don’t want to wait a week to read commentary and news digests of big stories, given a flood of instant content available online.
The announcement of the change was made Thursday by Tina Brown, editor-in-chief and founder of The Newsweek Daily Beast Co, and Baba Shetty, its CEO. Job cuts are expected.
“In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format,” Brown and Shetty said on The Daily Beast website.
Newsweek’s decision does not come as a surprise. Barry Diller, the head of the company that owns Newsweek, announced in July that the publication was examining its future as a weekly print magazine. Diller said then that producing a weekly news magazine in print form wasn’t easy.
Newsweek isn’t the first to drop its print product. US News & World Report dropped its weekly print edition years ago and now focuses on the Web and special print editions, such as a guide to best graduate schools. SmartMoney announced in June that it was going all-digital. Dow Jones & Co., a unit of News Corp., said at the time that 25 positions at SmartMoney would be eliminated.
Brown said staff cuts at Newsweek are expected, but didn’t give a specific figure. She also said that Newsweek’s editorial and print operations would be streamlined in the U.S. and abroad.
Newsweek’s print edition has been losing relevancy over the years as readers flocked to new, digital sources for news. It did become a conversation piece last month when a cover essay, “Muslim Rage: How I Survived It, How We Can End It,” spawned a huge response on Twitter. Newsweek had invited Twitter users to write about the subject using the hashtag “MuslimRage.” But most people, many of them Muslim, mocked the subject instead of adopting the article’s serious tone. Newsweek, for its part, took the jabs in stride and said its covers and hashtags spark debate on big topics.
Newsweek hasn’t been doing well for years. Mounting losses prompted The Washington Post Co. in 2010 to sell Newsweek for $1 to stereo equipment magnate Sidney Harman. Harman died the following year.
Before he died, he placed Newsweek into a joint venture with IAC/InterActiveCorp’s The Daily Beast website in an effort to trim the magazine’s losses and widen its online audience.
Brown and Shetty said the all-digital publication will be called Newsweek Global and will be a single, worldwide edition that requires a paid subscription. It will be available for tablets and website reading, with certain content available on The Daily Beast website.
“We are transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it,” they wrote.