Newsweek, the venerable weekly news magazine, has announced that it will cease print publication with its December 31 issue. Plans are to continue in a digital subscription format.
I don’t know when I first starting reading Newsweek, but I do remember reading the thin-paper, black and white Newsweek International edition when I was stationed in Vietnam in the late 1960’s. I was a subscriber for a number of years but cancelled (actually, I chose not to renew) when Jon Meacham left as editor and Tina Brown came on board. I fully expected the print version to go under at some point.
There are a number of reasons why a printed publication like Newsweek (and U.S. News and World Report which “bit the dust” earlier) has difficulty surviving in the digital age. Digital accessibility drives a 24/7 news cycle that provides all types of information—of various quality—instantaneously. The weekly news magazines once argued that they could provide more in-depth coverage and analysis, but bloggers have usurped that role and true in-depth reporting now comes in book-length form.
Going digital will not assure the survival of Newsweek, however. The product will have to improve. The magazine was no longer devoted to current events and cultural analysis but had become a smorgasbord of fashion, opinion, and minutiae that no longer interested me.
I have found myself able to survive without Newsweek in its present format since the first of the year, but I am grateful for the way that it informed and enlightened me in days past. Rest in peace.