Newsweek announced last week that this year will be their last printing physical magazines, moving entirely to their website and apps.
"We have reached a tipping point in the industry at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach ... readers in an all-digital format," Newsweek spokesman Andrew Kirk said.
There has been a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking on the announcement, with many “industry” folks using the announcement to insult Newsweek and predict it’s imminent demise.
Even the commenters on a Yahoo news post I saw of the announcement were throwing in their no-doubt highly informed opinion.
Some predicted the magazine would cease to exist entirely within in a few months. Others lamented the loss of appreciation for the super-convenient bound format news that inevitably ends up in a trash can, a bird cage or at your feet 30 years from now as you wonder “Why the hell did I keep these? What am I supposed to do with these?” Most of the comments I saw rang a victory cry over the death of another “liberal rag,” just because it won’t be in their doctor’s office waiting rooms anymore. “Out of sight, out of mind” becomes advantageous when these commenters need to prioritize what fills the limited space of their minds.
I could not be happier about the announcement, as a journalist and an Internet citizen.
Newsweek has now done what every other magazine and newspaper will have done in the next 20 or 30 years.
An Associate Press article by Ryan Nakashima quotes Paul Canetti, the founder and CEO of MAZ, a company that helps magazines publish digital editions, as telling prospective clients to "dip their toes" into digital publishing and "wade in as the market demands it."
This kind of meek, cautious thinking is not only what is holding back the print media industry, it is what is holding our entire economy back.
And Newsweek, having sat on the side of Canetti’s pool kicking their feet in the water for the past few months, has now stood up, gotten a good starting distance and done a cannonball into the future.
The other companies, standing on the edge, occasionally dipping a tentative toe, are now mad at Newsweek for getting them wet and acting so recklessly. They predict imminent death or injury. But people say that about all of the fun things.
Now Newsweek will tread water, and it might be difficult for a while, but they will be better acclimated and prepared for where they need to be.
Part of their explanation includes the prediction that the U.S. will have 70 million tablet computer users by the end of the year, “up from 13 million just two years ago,” Kirk said in Nakashima’s article.
I’m also excited because it won’t affect me at all. I subscribed to Newsweek when I first got an iPad, and I think it’s fantastic.
I would never have subscribed to the print edition. As far as I could tell, Newsweek, as a print magazine, is virtually indistinguishable from Time, or any of its other neighbors on the newsstand. I occasionally appreciate Andrew Sullivan’s unique perspectives, but he is only a carry-over from Newsweek’s merger with online news site The Daily Beast two years ago.
But the magazine’s place in the rarefied air of digital subscriptions (which Time has still not gotten around to trying, or “dipping their toes” into), is much stabler, only really facing competition from the innovative Newscorp experiment called The Daily. And between the two, as a user and subscriber of both, I would probably prefer Newsweek.
And from a corporate, profit-potential perspective, I am a lot more valuable, with many more years of subscriptions and looking at advertisements, than many dozens of commenters telling Yahoo News articles about how terrible everything is nowadays.
(Zach White is a reporter with the Havre Daily News.)