Newsweek ends 80-year print run, goes all-digital

Published: October 19, 2012

Edition printed in Pakistan not expected to make digital-only shift, says editor-in-chief. PHOTO: NEWSWEEK

WASHINGTON: 

Struggling in the Internet age, the woes of the print publication industry just became as plain as the nose on your face.

In the latest example of how print media has had to adapt to changing reading habits, Newsweek, the venerable US weekly current affairs magazine, will publish its final print edition on December 31 and move to an all-digital format early next year, ending an 80-year run as a print magazine and taking the esteemed publication all-digital.

“This decision is not about the quality of the brand or the journalism – that is as powerful as ever,” wrote Tina Brown, editor-in-chief and founder of the online Newsweek Daily Beast Company. “It is about the challenging economics of print publishing and distribution,” she said, insisting: “We are transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it.”

However, Brown’s note did not mention Newsweek’s international editions, including Newsweek Pakistan, except to say the new digital version would be a single, worldwide product.

Newsweek Pakistan

In an email interview, Fasih Ahmed, editor-in-chief Newsweek Pakistan, told The Express Tribune that the edition printed in Pakistan would not make an immediate shift to digital.

“At this stage, we don’t expect transitioning Newsweek Pakistan from print to digital-only may be required,” said Ahmed, adding that Newsweek Pakistan will continue working with Newsweek/Daily Beast Company and with other partner editions.

Furthermore, Ahmed revealed that Newsweek Pakistan would also be launching a brand-new website and developing content for other digital platforms to complement its print edition.

“To this end, we will be adding new members to our staff,” Ahmed added, a statement in stark contrast to Brown’s, which said the transition to all-digital will entail job cuts, not specifying how many.

“Newsweek is a solid global brand with substantial growth promise in its digital-only iteration in the US and European markets,” Ahmed concluded, expressing optimism in the organisation’s transition to all-digital in the coming year.

Newsweek Global

The all-digital Newsweek will be called Newsweek Global and will be a single, worldwide edition, Brown, and chief executive Baba Shetty wrote in a post on the Daily Beast website.

Like other US magazines and newspapers, Newsweek has been grappling with a steep drop in print advertising revenue, steadily declining circulation and the migration of readers to free news online. Circulation has fallen from more than four million a decade ago to around 1.5 million last year, and losses were mounting. According to the research firm eMarketer, digital ad spending will grow to $37.31 billion in 2012, and outpace print for the first time in 2012, which will get $34.33 billion.

Daily Beast is an online news and culture site launched in 2008 by Brown, a former editor of the magazines The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Talk. Newsweek merged with the Daily Beast website in 2010.

In contrast to the Daily Beast website, which is free and advertising-supported, Newsweek Global will be subscription-based, with some content available on the Daily Beast, Brown and Shetty wrote. Newsweek has been able to build a growing online audience, in part due to the popularity of devices such as Apple Inc’s iPad and e-readers from Amazon.com Inc and Barnes & Noble Inc.

That growth has led Newsweek to a “tipping point” where it is most effective to distribute the publication exclusively through digital means, Brown and Shetty wrote.

The Daily Beast gets more than 15 million unique visitors a month, with much of that growth generated by Newsweek, they said.

“The whole idea behind the Newsweek-Daily Beast merger was to marry print to digital. So it strikes me that if Newsweek is going to cease to exist as a print product, then the idea failed,”said  Dan Kennedy, journalism professor at Northeastern University.

edited by hassaan khan

Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2012.

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