The Wall Street Journal noted the end of an era with the final print edition of Newsweek magazine coming out on Monday, December 31. It will transition to an online-only format with plans to charge subscribers for its content after the first of the year.
The end has been coming for some time. On October 18, Tina Brown, Newsweek’s editor, announced the change on the same day that she gave a eulogy for Robert Hughes, Time magazine’s famed art critic. Both marked the end of an era. Jim Kelly, writing in Vanity Fair called Hughes' and Newsweek’s demises as the “dwindling cult of authority.”
Owned since 1961 by the Washington Post Company (WPC), Newsweek suffered of late from two emerging forces: a change in how people access the news, and a change in what they wanted to read when they got it. What’s not clear is whether its successor, called Newsweek Global, will be able to make the transition successfully.
In less than two years, from 2007-2009, Newsweek’s revenues dropped 38 percent, which forced WPC to sell it in August 2010 for $1 — with all of its debt — to Sidney Harman, the co-founder of Harman/Kardon, the home and auto audio equipment maker.
A few months later Newsweek merged with the liberal online news and opinion website The Daily Beast in the hopes that the latter could rescue the former from oblivion.
In March 2011, Newsweek editor Tina Brown did a major redesign in an attempt to broaden its subscriber base but without success. She admitted as much in an interview with New York magazine. Michael Kinsley confronted Brown: “Everyone I talked to had the same reaction: If anyone can pull this off, it will be Tina — but no one can pull this off. That turns out to be correct?”
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