Newsweek will cease print publication at the end of this year.
There’s no two ways about it, it is sad news to say goodbye to the iconic and venerable print magazine, Newsweek. I’m sorry but it is saying GOODBYE. It is not simply saying hello to new opportunities on the internet. It is a simple fact: Newsweek, the magazine as it has been known for 80 years, is gone. It is also a fact that we are all moving on. Why would you want to continue to have an expensive print version of your product when you want to invest in digital? Two years ago, The Daily Beast bought out Newsweek and, with the help of Newsweek content, The Daily Beast has soared. When you think of Newsweek now, it’s “Newsweek and the Daily Beast” or “NWDB” for short. And that’s the reality of things. The main reason to stop print is the high cost of print and distribution. That is what the comic book industry is definitely grappling with. The new digital version of Newsweek will be known as Newsweek Global, one world-wide digital version that you can only read through paid subscription with some content available on The Daily Beast website for free. That, like it or not, is a model for the future.
I recall, even as a kid in the ’70s, that Newsweek had more of a kick than Time. The headlines were usually more direct and the color was more saturated. The writing was bolder. The layouts were more robust. It had everything you could want in a weekly news magazine plus it had just the right amount of “eye candy,” a term that I believe originated in the ’70s in response to what was seen by some critics as the coming scourge of infotainment ushered in my this brand new candy-coated television program, “20/20.” But Newsweek wasn’t eye candy! It had style and it knew how to use text and image in more compelling ways than its competitor, Time. You could say that Newsweek was already, to a certain degree, hip to the look and feel of the internet before there was an internet.
That said, it really is too bad to say goodbye to the print version. I found it handy to tuck an issue under my arm and then read it on the bus. I also have an e-reader but I prefer to keep that for reading books, not magazines. The fact about e-readers: If you want to experience reading that is easy on your eyes, then you want the black and white e-ink type reader. If you want color, then you’re reading it off a bright screen which is not terribly eye-friendly. Here in Seattle, in 2012, there is a healthy number of tablet and e-ink readers on the daily commute. Among readers, there is also a similar number of people reading actual books and magazines. I’m not sure that we, the reading public, have reached the “tipping point” of reading everything on a gadget but, perhaps, advertisers have calculated it is time to make a greater investment in digital.
At some point, perhaps in another five to ten years, tablets will be as commonplace as cell phones. But will the internet become more accessible to everyone? No, probably not. All you have to do is go to any public library and see how heavily used the public computers are. People who use public computers can only use them for limited amounts of time, hardly enough to let themselves get caught up in too many articles from what the traditional Newsweek of yesteryear used to offer. That type of accessibility will be lost. What you get for free is The Daily Beast site and, for less fortunate readers who even bother to look on a public computer, that amounts to a few bites of info, gossip and world-class content along with your chance to enter the boxing ring with the animation of a bikini clad babe, or some such advertisement, that will pop up and share your reading space. So much for eye candy. But these readers are not really NWDB readers and hardly Newsweek Global readers. Anyhow, more serious readers, even impoverished ones, can always find a way to get what they need.
You can check out what NWDB Editor-in-Chief, Tina Brown, and NWDB CEO, Baba Shetty had to say about the Newsweek shakeup here. The conclusion that NWDB has reached is that the company can not lose itself in the “romance of print” and it must “embrace the all-digital future.” The last print issue of Newsweek will be for the week of December 31, 2012.