On Newsweek’s going out of print

I suspect many of you could imagine this morning’s news that Newsweek plans to end its print edition after 80 years hitting close to home for a dead-trees journalist like myself. It doesn’t, and here’s why.

I graduated from college in 2001. Although that was right when a lot of print media outlets were making Internet-related mistakes, I was under no illusions that hard-copy newspapers would be around for my entire career. Two more decades of papers hitting driveways seemed about right to me.

About a decade later, I’m not yet prepared to give printed media no more than 10 years to live. But a couple of things have become clear:

1. Digital is not a death sentence: On the contrary, the era of online journalism has seen a proliferation of media outlets. Some are better than others, some have lasted longer than others. Which leads me to …

2. Quality, not the medium, is what matters: Good, relevant, unique content will attract readers whether it’s delivered in print or online. We may still be at a stage where the transition of a longstanding print outlet to online-only says something about whether that publication was producing good, relevant, unique content. (I can’t really offer an opinion about how Newsweek was doing on that front, other than to say I haven’t picked up a copy in a long time …) But at some point — probably not too far in the future — such a change won’t signal desperation.

Media outlets that don’t produce that kind of content won’t save themselves for long in any medium. That will mean the death of some one-time household names (Newsweek?), even as some new players become mainstays (Slate, Politico). That’s capitalism, or at least how it’s supposed to work.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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172 comments Add your comment

One perspective....

October 18th, 2012
2:22 pm

Who cares? I haven’t read a Newsweek in years.

Kyle Wingfield

October 18th, 2012
2:23 pm

One @ 2:22: My point exactly.

southpaw

October 18th, 2012
2:30 pm

My Government teacher in high school tried teaching from Newsweek instead of from the textbook for a few weeks. After a good bit of side talk and other misbehavior from some of my classmates, she abandoned her experiment and went back to the book. Even though I couldn’t condone the misbehavior, I was glad for the result of it. Newsweek already had the reuptation for biased coverage, and I wasn’t interested in being indoctrinated. My brother had taken the same class (but from a different teacher, I think) three years earlier, and he suggested that U.S. News and World Report would have been a better magazine for the class to read.

Rush

October 18th, 2012
2:30 pm

Only question is who is next? Time? USA Today?

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 18th, 2012
2:38 pm

Wouldn’t mind seeing the NY Times fold.

That rag hasn’t told the truth in decades when it comes to politics.

cc

October 18th, 2012
2:38 pm

In my college days (mid-60’s), profs encouraged the reading of Newsweek. Having been sufficiently exposed to their liberal thinking, I immediately dismissed their recommendation. It isn’t difficult to distinguish between education and indoctrination.

Dusty

October 18th, 2012
2:41 pm

Oh my! What in the world will they have to read at the doctor’s office if our magazines are going ?

cc

October 18th, 2012
2:45 pm

Dusty:

ObamaCare rules and regs?

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 18th, 2012
2:45 pm

Not only costly to print and distribute, but it is amazing that with current technology the printed info is outdated for the most part by the time it hits the driveway. I can remember when the Braves played on the west coast and there was no cable/ESPN, I would have to wait until the 6 PM TV sports/news to find out if they won the previous night or hang by the radio, hoping against hope they might mention the score. Now, we blog in real time and criticize the manager for the decisions he makes. As Barry says “we ain’t going back” to old news in print.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 18th, 2012
2:51 pm

cc: 2:45 funny!!!

ByteMe - Got ilk?

October 18th, 2012
2:55 pm

I’ve had a Newsweek subscription for 30 years. Until today. I cancelled my subscription on the news. The change to digital-only was coming; that topic was discussed in the board meeting a month or two back. I didn’t really want a digital magazine, so they’re not fulfilling my need.

Since it’s merger/take-over by the Daily Beast, it reads more like People magazine than the Newsweek I wanted to read. Turns out all their great writers moved over to Time… and so have I.

UNCLE SAMANTHA

October 18th, 2012
3:01 pm

when will the AJC go out of print?

Georgia

October 18th, 2012
3:02 pm

Newsweek is written by third graders for second graders. Also, anyone else noticed how they’ve dumbed down the New York Times in recent years? I’ve read more sophistication in a Macy’s One Day Sale ad. You know who started this global mediocritizing? Yanni.

jeffrey

October 18th, 2012
3:04 pm

I haven’t read Newsweek in forever and never thought they were ever good. I still like my ajc and wsj on the drive every morning though.

cc

October 18th, 2012
3:09 pm

Full Head of Hair . . . but no brain.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 18th, 2012
3:10 pm

If only Full Head of Hair had a full head of brains . . .

Kyle Wingfield

October 18th, 2012
3:11 pm

cc, Tib: If he had a brain, he’d realize he’s the only one laughing.

Kyle Wingfield

October 18th, 2012
3:13 pm

UNCLE @ 3:01: Actually, our circulation is doing quite well. There’s been a significant turnaround since we put more of a focus on investigative/watchdog reporting.

Road Scholar

October 18th, 2012
3:14 pm

Kyle, good review. This goes for newspapers also. And the AJC should start with changing articles and placing the old in an archive after one week of posting. (ie the article on copper wire theft in Alpharetta in N Fulton on the City State page has been there for over 3 weeks.) Date all articles. Eliminate multi postings of the same article within the paper. Provide links to articles /new/other papers/medias alluded to in the AJC piece. Give the reader more by providing the links to read deeper into a subject, if they desire.

America is too superficial- if you cannot get it in a 30 sec sound bite, forget about it…that is one of our present problems as a nation.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 18th, 2012
3:15 pm

Well apparently he’s laughing by himself now, Kyle! :lol:

cc

October 18th, 2012
3:17 pm

Kyle, I really hated it when the AJC cut their circulation to many parts of the state. I really miss being able to get a Sunday print edition!

Kyle Wingfield

October 18th, 2012
3:19 pm

cc @ 3:17: So do my parents.

sailfish

October 18th, 2012
3:22 pm

I love when people tag something a “lib” magazine or newspaper. You kind of have the freedom to choose what article to read. Newsweek/time never cared for either, liked us news and world report for a long time but nothing beats the value of the morning paper with a cup of coffee..now that’s good reading, support your local newspaper – best value of your day.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 18th, 2012
3:23 pm

People magazine said it is doing just fine, thank you very much.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 18th, 2012
3:26 pm

Bytme, you can easily switch your subscription over to Biker Babes or Biguns from Newsweek.

td

October 18th, 2012
3:28 pm

When these mags and papers realize that following the far left agenda to a tee is damaging to the bottom line then they will change or they will go out of business. The AJC is trying to be fair and balanced, at least in what they say, and they are doing better. Newsweek has drifted farther and farther to the left and they will suffer mass layoffs.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 18th, 2012
3:32 pm

People Magazine

Pictures of reportedly important pop culture figures, that no one. but an Obama voter, has ever heard of.

Lambeau

October 18th, 2012
3:41 pm

Wow. Any of that necessary Fox?

Edward

October 18th, 2012
3:43 pm

You know what you call a country where only one ideology rules and is allowed? Iran. Or North Korea. Or China. Or Syria. Or Saudi Arabia. They’re very conservative, too.

@@

October 18th, 2012
3:44 pm

Oh no! What will the trees do now?

cc

October 18th, 2012
3:48 pm

You’re not really as crafty as a fox. You’re much more like a possum, or should I say ‘possum gravy’?

Tom(Independent Viet Vet-USAF)

October 18th, 2012
3:49 pm

Kyle – Does anyone actually read the Huffington Post?

@@

October 18th, 2012
3:52 pm

Does anyone actually read the Huffington Post?

Left-wingers do.

I drop by occasionally to see wherein their interests lie. It’s a strange place.

lex

October 18th, 2012
3:55 pm

Haven’t been a fan of Newsweek for many years, but I remember when its columnists were world class. The debates between Paul Samuelson and Milton Friedman on its pages were the high water mark of news weeklies.
As I recollect, Newsweek sold not long ago for $1. Seems to have been overpriced for an atrophied organ of liberal propaganda.

JDW

October 18th, 2012
3:58 pm

@Tom…number 6 on the list…right above Faux News

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/news-websites

JDW

October 18th, 2012
4:00 pm

I agree with the quality bit Kyle, Newsweek has been going downhill for 10 years. I switched to Time 3 years ago. I read 20 or so mags a month and not a one of them is the print version…all ipad.

Tom(Independent Viet Vet-USAF)

October 18th, 2012
4:01 pm

JDW – Not nice my man, you forget Fox News is #1 in ratings past 12 years! Gotcha!! If you don’t believe me, just ask Mr Bill O’Reilly!

Tom(Independent Viet Vet-USAF)

October 18th, 2012
4:03 pm

JDW – I almost forgot, FAIR AND BALANCED not Hope and Change!

southpaw

October 18th, 2012
4:10 pm

Oh no! What will the trees do now?
—————————————————–
Breathe a sigh of relief. BUT we’d better step up our production of carbon dioxide for them to breathe in. :-D

Matz

October 18th, 2012
4:11 pm

Ahhh, now, this really warms my heart. It’s so nice that the anti-intellectual crowd has their very own playgroup, and a place to gather where they know they’ll be surrounded by others just like them who truly know their struggles in life, railing against the losers in society who choose to inform themselves. You know, everybody fits in somewhere. God IS good, isn’t He?

Bill Hicks has some keen comments on this silly “readin’” thing. Bless your hearts.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZs9557NCAM

mike

October 18th, 2012
4:13 pm

Is this our future?

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogoct12/exhaustion-consumerism10-12.html

Interesting reading if you have a few minutes.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 18th, 2012
4:20 pm

Mittens afraid to go on The View?

hehehe

jconservative

October 18th, 2012
4:22 pm

And looking toward the future, the PC that I an sitting at is also going the way of the printed newspaper.
Palm held is the future.

td

October 18th, 2012
4:24 pm

conservative

October 18th, 2012
4:22 pm

And looking toward the future, the PC that I an sitting at is also going the way of the printed newspaper.
Palm held is the future.

Until you go blind.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

October 18th, 2012
4:52 pm

Mittens afraid to go on The View?

Finn
He is more than eye candy, so why bother!

Don Abernethy

October 18th, 2012
4:53 pm

Great news!!!

MrLiberty

October 18th, 2012
4:58 pm

Just another mouthpiece of the establishment and the ruling elite. Won’t miss them a bit. Plenty of great places on the Internet to find out the real truth.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

October 18th, 2012
5:07 pm

Romney won’t connect to his target voting constituency, which is decent and normal people, by going on the view.

He already lost the mouthbreather vote, why bother?

Jerry Fawell

October 18th, 2012
5:08 pm

“He already lost the mouthbreather vote, why bother?”

You switched your vote? Wow

Increased circulation

October 18th, 2012
5:10 pm

I actually partially agree with Kyle – The AJC’s investigative reports have been top notch, but I don’t know how much they’ve helped with print circulation. Agressive marketing to dropped subscribers and, of course, the Publix 1cent coupon have probably contributed far more to any stabilization the AJC has seen in its numbers. For national and international news, there’s still no newspaper that comes close to being as good as the NY Times. Plus, they have Maureen Dowd’s and Paul Krugman’s columns.