October 18, 2012
Newsweek To End Print Edition
Newsweek has announced that it will end print publication of the magazine with its December 31 edition. The news source will become a single all-digital subscription edition called Newsweek Global. Tina Brown and Baba Shetty made the announcement on the pages of The Daily Beast which joined with Newsweek about two years ago. The announcement contains high hopes for capturing a tablet based user base willing to pay for news and commentary from Newsweek. Good luck with that.
The road to online profitability depends on the loyalty of readers drawn to unique content. Therein lies the problem. News alone is not unique. Consider last Tuesday’s presidential debate. Can’t get past a potential pay wall for Newsweek’s coverage? Then try The Atlantic, or Time, or Slate, or The New Yorker. There will always be alternatives for coverage to major news events that are free, and for many readers, good enough. In fact, some of the same content will appear free on The Daily Beast web site. How’s that for undermining the model?
I agree that the economics of maintaining print production and distribution is getting less and less viable as time goes on. I don’t believe, however, that a subscription model will generate the kind of cash that will make the online version of Newsweek successful in a way Tina Brown envisions. A more detailed analysis of this point is available from Reuters in an article by Felix Salmon. Oh, and it’s free.
I’ll add one other thought not usually covered in the popular press. I pity the poor cite checker who will have to explain to his or her law review editor that there is no permanent print version of Newsweek to verify a draft footnote. I see this problem happening more and more at the reference desk these days.We’ll see if Newsweek’s transition from print to digital is profitable, or as profitable as the editors will like. I’m not so sure that will be the case. [MG]
I didn't realize they still printed and/or published Newsweek.
Posted by: thor | Oct 20, 2012 8:50:14 PM