A picture and a new magazine
As Newsweek Pakistan plans to launch later this month, I wonder, are there enough readers for English newspapers and magazines in the country?
Newsweek Pakistan is about to hit the news-stands – or so its Facebook page, which is the medium through which it communicates in this country, claims. In fact, they are now asking people to send in a picture and telling them that it may appear on the cover. A closer look at the promo has the magazine saying that by sending the picture, the sender is giving Newsweek “the right to publish this photo in its sole discretion and in any format that it chooses”. So are we going to see a map of Pakistan, made up of pictures sent in as a result of this promotion?
The question that obviously comes to mind is whether there are enough readers for English newspapers and magazines in the country. Perhaps, one target market would be those who have subscriptions to Newsweek’s international edition. But there too it may be fair to assume that the number of people who subscribe to a weekly magazine – when one can have free access to hundreds of news websites which update around the clock – must be well on the decline. That would perhaps explain why just last week the magazine, owned by the Washington Post Company since 1961, was sold off.
According to Bloomberg, details of the deal between the newspaper giant and Sidney Harman, founder of a company which makes the Harman Kardon, JBL and Infinity audio products, mean that the staff of 300-plus journalists is unlikely to be reduced. Mr Harman, who is 91 years old, is the husband of US Democractic Congresswoman Jane Harman, who is a member of the House of Representatives from the 36th Congressional District. Mr Harman himself served in the Carter administration.
The magazine has been losing money for several years. According to Richard Adams in The Guardian its circulation dropped from over 3.1 million in 2000 to around 1.8 million by mid-2009. Advertising revenue fell by over 30 per cent in the last two years alone.
It remains to be seen that with this kind of baggage – and the demographics of the Pakistani English print-media market – what impact if any will Newsweek Pakistan make.
Having said that, it’s always good to have competition – readers get more variety and journalists get more job options. So best of luck to them.