Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Prolonged Death of Newsweek

It’s interesting that the list of brands that are most likely to die, discussed in the WNBA post, did not include Newsweek. Maybe it’s because the list was intended to deal with major brands recognizable to the public, and Newsweek no longer meets that criteria.

Anyway, Newsweek is up for sale again (this is the third time in the past few years). When the Washington Post unloaded it a few years ago, the price was $1. When it was merged into Daily Beast, no price was mentioned, but I understand the negotiations consisted of “Take it. Please!”

IAC, the current owner, probably didn’t do their bargaining position any good with this:
IAC’s Barry Diller last month signaled his unhappiness with the purchase, telling Bloomberg TV that “it was a mistake” to buy the publication and a “fool’s errand if that magazine is a news weekly.” While praising the journalists who work there, he said that he did “not have great expectations” for the digital product.
I’ll be sort of sad when Newsweek does finally disappear completely. I’ve had a lot of good times over the years making fun of them. Here’s an item I posted on my old blog (it dealt with advertising/marketing issues) back in 2008, when Newsweek had deluded itself into thinking it could compete with The Economist:
In the past couple decades, the newsweeklies have mostly appeared to respond to the changing market by dumbing themselves down to the point that they're pretty much indistinguishable from People. (I admit I'm basing this on limited observation -- it's been decades since I read any of those mags anywhere other than doctor's offices). This left a niche that has been filled by The Economist. And now it seems that Newsweek wants to crowd into the same niche:
According to these reports, Newsweek plans to shed news coverage in favor of analysis and opinion journalism as practiced by The Economist and other so-called thought-leader titles, relying on big-name journalists rather than the teams of reporters and editors who now put out the magazine each week. Shedding a good share of that staff would mean huge cost savings. Already this year, Newsweek has shed more than 100 positions.
Good luck to them, of course, but Newsweek trying to reposition itself as intelligent reading seems to me kind of like Lindsay Lohan trying to rebrand herself as Grace Kelly -- it's a worthy effort, but unlikely to succeed.
Like the WNBA, I doubt that many will notice when Newsweek finally disappears completely. In its heyday – which was several decades ago – it reached the lofty heights of being spoken of as “almost as good as Time.” When that’s the high point of your life, it’s unlikely that your death with be mourned.

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