Newsweek magazine ended almost 80 years in print on Tuesday with its issue dated December 31 showing a full-page black and white photo of its former Manhattan office building and the hash-tagged headline #LastPrintIssue.
The venerable magazine vacated the offices many years ago, but the headline on the final cover with its subtle reference to Twitter seemed to provide the forward-looking aspect of the transition to an all-digital format.
Newsweek announced its decision to scrap its print edition on October 18 following reports that the company was losing millions of dollars annually. Once a top magazine in the US media landscape, the magazine provided weekly news analysis for generations of Americans. But since 2005, its circulation dropped by about half to 1.5 million and advertising pages plunged more than 80 per cent.
The all-digital publication will be named Newsweek Global and will be a single, worldwide edition targeting a “highly mobile, opinion-leading audience who want to learn about world events in a sophisticated context,” Newsweek said.
Newsweek Global will require readers to pay a subscription fee of about 25 dollar annually or 5 dollars per individual copy. It will be available through e-readers for both tablet and the Web, with select content available on The Daily Beast.
Tina Brown, editor of the magazine, is also the editor of the Daily Beast, which is controlled by IAC/Interactive Corporation. Currently, the joint operation attracts 19 million online visitors each month, which the company expects will grow as consumers continue to move to digital devices.
“We are transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it,” Brown wrote. “We remain committed to Newsweek and to the journalism that it represents. This decision is not about the quality of the brand or the journalism - that is as powerful as ever. It is about the challenging economics of print publishing and distribution.”
Christopher Sterling, emeritus professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, said he does not think the transition can save the weekly magazine, which has been losing its foothold and relevance in the 24/7 news cycle.
“I can't see how the Newsweek brand will make it amidst all the competition that's online,” Sterling said.
But Newsweek is not the only legacy news magazine disappearing. Sterling called the trend of traditional news outlets going under “systematic” as they struggle to reinvent themselves in the digital era.
“Magazines are getting thinner and thinner,” Sterling told dpa. “It's like watching a friend die.” - Sapa-dpa