Internet kills the paper star

The Buggles’ 80’s anthem had somewhat of a prophetic overtone. MTV had just been created, and this video was in fact the first shown on the channel. It was not meant to be. For a while, it seemed as though music video would in fact usurp radio’s place in the world, but eventually MTV became a “lifestyle” channel, and the novelty of video had worn off. Radio might not be what it used to be, however it is still up and about, influencing both the nation’s thinking as well as musical taste.

It is with some sadness that I picked up the last Newsweek in print edition. So they say.

I know I am as much a part of the problem as the solution. I was an avid Newsweek reader while in college and years after, but somewhere along the ride, got tired of the magazine, eventually subscribing to US News and World Report. This, like AMC in Detroit, was the first current U.S. news magazine to die, and I was orphaned. By the time I took another look at Newsweek,  it was no longer much of a news magazine. I really didn’t know what the magazine had become.

Funny that news magazines are still very healthy and relevant in other parts of the world. In Brazil, Veja continues to have a prominent position in shaping the political process, and the same holds for France’s Figaro and the UK’s The Economist. The latter is my favorite news magazine of the age.

I was never much of a Time person. I read it sporadically, but something in the magazine put me off.

The last print edition seemed to be almost apologetic, attempting to explain that the magazine had a futuristic vision, and that eventually the competitors(?)( I reckon in the singular, Time) would follow suit. It seemed to focus on readership and relevance alone, and the fact that to remain strong and relevant, the magazine decided to go 100% digital.

As excuses go, this seems a poor one. Just peruse the advertisers on this last edition and you pinpoint where the problem is. This magazine had more attorney and physician advertisers than the magazine had in its entire first 75 years! Full page ads were few and far between, and quarter pages abounded. even a Christian college had an ad published, which included its radio station, something the secular media has shunned for many years, lest they be called religious, a four-letter word in this industry.

Yes, I suppose the problem is 100% economic! Sure, 1.5 million subscribers might bring some dough, however, it seems that although magazines such as People manage to convince advertisers they are a good destination for their dollars, Newsweek, like U.S. News, failed to do so.

The current editor tried to convince the world that the magazine in print could, nonetheless, continue on. that this was purely strategic. The merger with a news site called Daily Beast (which I had never heard of) could supposedly help sustain the brand into the digital age, but I am not that convinced.

Thus, Newsweek in print follows Twinkies, Suzuki cars, Pontiac, Mercury cars, as a victim of the tough economic age.

It seems that in the future, we better be accustomed to reading People in Doctor’s waiting rooms.

Goodbye, Newsweek. It is highly unlikely I will read your digital edition ever, so unless you recant on your decision, this might be goodbye forever.


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