Tina Brown announces the decision to go digital-only for Newsweek magazine at the end of the year, a surprise to no one who’s watched its circulation plummet, losses mount and uncertainty reign after white knight Sidney Harmon died and the now fully digital Barry Diller merged his Daily Beast operations with it.
It’s an understandable decision, though I WOULD like to start getting the darned magazine before it goes out of business (I was supposed to start receiving it as a premium after I reupped my KCRW support). That I haven’t gotten anything yet, two months after pledging suggests one of Newsweek’s many sources of trouble.
More interestingly, of course, are the echoes of this decision for the acquisition of one of my former employers, Variety, by my current employer, Penske Media Corp. (I work for Deadline, a subsidiary; here’s their take on the announcement: http://www.deadline.com/2012/10/newsweek-end-print-edition/ ).
Lots of speculation has abounded that at least the daily edition may be shut down. I know no trade secrets in all this, but people do forget that for most of its existence, Variety was ONLY the weekly edition.
In the early 1990s, Peter Bart helped create the Daily Variety we more or less now know, and established it in Los Angeles, far from Variety’s venerable vaudeville New York roots.
Losing the daily edition would certainly have a big effect on costs for the publication, but creates a whole series of other complicated impacts, both positive and negative.
Jay Penske’s stated plan to make no big changes to Variety in the next year while they spend some time better understanding operations from the inside makes a lot of sense. If he comes to the same conclusion Diller and Newsweek’s other backers have, however, I can’t say that will surprise me either.