After an attempt to rethink Newsweek as an upscale purveyor of opinion, The Washington Post has announced it's putting the venerable newsweekly up for sale. Editor Jon Meacham says that, while he's confident a buyer will step forward, he may try to build an investor coalition to buy it himself. But is there still a market for Newsweek? (Watch Jon Meacham's timely appearance on "The Daily Show")
Where's the audience? Newsmagazines are ill-suited to the Twitter age, says Howard Kurtz in The Washington Post. "No one really needs them as a digest of the week's news, and newspapers now do the instant analysis and textured tick-tocks in which the newsmags used to specialize."
"Newsweek's hazy future"
Meacham might fix Newsweek yet: "Newsweek has tried to adapt," say the editors of The Economist. Over the last two years, Meacham has slashed staff and costs, raised subscription prices to "focus on wealthier, more committed readers," and repositioned the magazine as "a smart, selective commentator—a kind of weekly Atlantic." That's the right approach; maybe a new owner can make it work.
"Black and white, and in the red"
Meacham is a big part of the problem: "For a journalist, he is bizarrely incurious about the world," says an unnamed print staffer, quoted in New York magazine. Meacham's "interests extend to history, politics, and... well, that's about it." The downsides of his limited, academic sensibility were seemingly underlined by recent focus-group feedback, adds the source: "One of their comments was that the magazine feels like homework."
"Can Jon Meacham save Newsweek now?"
The Web killed Newsweek. The Web can save it: Newsweek can survive, says Nicholas Carlson in Business Insider, provided an Internet powerhouse—say, AOL—snaps it up as a quick-fix source of exclusive news content. Granted, the extensively staffed magazine lost $28 million last year, but costs "will go way down after AOL fires most everybody and kills the print magazine."