Newsweek, the venerable publication that will be remembered for its decades-long weekly war with Time for a spot on consumers' coffee tables, will shut down its print edition at the end of this year.
The move should not shock. The publication has faced major financial problems in recent years. The numbers tell the tale: Newsweek's circulation is half of what it was a decade ago; Sidney Harman bought the magazine for $1 – far less than the newsstand price of one copy – in 2010. And after Harman died last year, his family said it would stop investing in the magazine. Annual losses were thought to be $40 million.
In reality, the Newsweek brand died for many readers when it was merged into IAC's Daily Beast operation in 2010. Since then, it's been mostly unclear if The Daily Beast was the dog and Newsweek the tail, or vice versa, and readers and media critics alike have groaned at many of its covers.
In a nutshell, here's what the shuttering of the print edition of Newsweek means:
More out of work journalists
Newsweek and Daily Beast editor Tina Brown said in her widely leaked memo that “we anticipate staff reductions and streamlining of our editorial and business operations both here in the US and internationally.” A thin silver lining is that more talent will be available for both other media outlets and PR agencies.
More uncertainty about the Newsweek brand
With print deadlines and page counts out of the way, how much will the subscription-based Newsweek Global maintain its own identity? And after nearly three years of change, what will that be?
Newsweek isn't the only magazine with grave financial problems – BusinessWeek was reportedly losing more than $800,000 a week in late 2009 before its acquisition by Bloomberg. Other outlets will continue to change their business models for a digital future, but few will inspire the nostalgia that Newsweek did with today's announcement.