Should Newsweek ditch its print edition?

The magazine's owner hints that the publication will become online only, casting doubt on the future of the venerable weekly.

By Jul 27, 2012 9:59AM

This revolution might not be covered in Newsweek's pages. Barry Diller, whose company IAC/InterActiveCorp. (IACI), recently became the majority owner of the magazine, strongly suggested Wednesday that Newsweek could become an online-only publication.


"The transition to online from hard print will take place," he said, going on to say that the brand is going to be "different" next year. "We are examining all of our options." A spokesperson for Diller later said he was speaking of the news business in general, but that didn't stop commentators from speculating on the future of the 79-year-old newsweekly, which was joined at the hip with The Daily Beast website (and its mercurial editor, Tina Brown) in 2010, but continues to bleed money.

Should Newsweek discontinue its print edition?

Yes. The switch to online is inevitable: "Most magazine publishers these days concede that their publications will ultimately have to transition to digital-only at some point," says Alexander Abad-Santos at The Atlantic. Physical magazines continue to generate "major revenues" from print advertising and circulation, but losses are mounting and it's only a question of when they will make the switch. "In any case, the death of print... is not far off." 

But print formats don't necessarily work well online: "It is not yet clear that traditional magazine formats will work successfully in the digital-only format," says Yinka Adegoke at Reuters. In 2011, News Corp. (NWS), the owner of The Wall Street Journal and Fox News, "launched The Daily for the iPad and other tablet devices," but "the title continues to lose money and is unlikely to be profitable anytime soon." Becoming an online magazine—or in The Daily's case, an all-original online newspaper—is not as simple as posting articles on the internet. 

Newsweek may disappear altogether: While Newsweek has an "illustrious history and international recognition," many wonder whether it "will survive in any form," says Jeff Bercovici at Forbes. Diller can afford to keep it around now with IAC's "rock-solid balance sheet," but industry sources says the magazine loses $20 million a year, which Diller has described as "unacceptable." The Daily Beast "was Diller's idea," and Newsweek has only distracted him from investing more in his own baby.

Sources: The Atlantic, Reuters, Forbes

More from The Week:

Jul 27, 2012 12:29PM
It is the death of real news.  Online does not work and does not generate enough profits ro substantiate real journalists but print no longer works because the new generation gets everything online and they have shorter attention spans so they don't care about details, just the headlines.  Without accurate and detailed news we will have more corruption but the people will not know about it so I guess it won't really be considered a problem (until it is and the problem is too big to handle).
Jul 27, 2012 12:47PM
The last time I looked at a copy of Newsweek at a bookstore, it seemed to have shrunk to almost nothing already.
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