Feature

Should Newsweek ditch its print edition?

The magazine's owner hints that the publication will become online-only, casting the future of the venerable newsweekly into doubt

The revolution might not be covered in Newsweek's pages. Barry Diller, whose company IAC/InterActiveCorp., recently became the majority owner of the magazine, strongly suggested Wednesday that Newsweek could become an online-only publication. "The transition to online from hard print will take place," he said, going on to say that the brand is going to be "different" next year. "We are examining all of our options." A spokesperson for Diller later said he was speaking of the news business in general, but that didn't stop commentators from speculating on the future of the 79-year-old newsweekly, which was joined at the hip with The Daily Beast website (and its mercurial editor, Tina Brown) in 2010, but continues to bleed money. Should Newsweek discontinue its print edition?

Yes. The switch to online is inevitable: "Most magazine publishers these days concede that their publications will ultimately have to transition to digital-only at some point," says Alexander Abad-Santos at The Atlantic. Physical magazines continue to generate "major revenues" from print advertising and circulation, but losses are mounting and it's only a question of when they will make the switch. "In any case, the death of print... is not far off." "The end of print for Newsweek is on Barry Diller's horizon"

But print formats don't necessarily work well online: "It is not yet clear that traditional magazine formats will work successfully in the digital-only format," says Yinka Adegoke at Reuters. In 2011, News Corp., the owner of The Wall Street Journal and Fox News, "launched The Daily for the iPad and other tablet devices," but "the title continues to lose money and is unlikely to be profitable anytime soon." Becoming an online magazine — or in The Daily's case, an all-original online newspaper — is not as simple as posting articles on the internet. "Diller mulls making money-loser Newsweek online only"

Newsweek may disappear altogether: While Newsweek has an "illustrious history and international recognition," many wonder whether it "will survive in any form," says Jeff Bercovici at Forbes. Diller can afford to keep it around now with IAC's "rock-solid balance sheet," but industry sources says the magazine loses $20 million a year, which Diller has described as "unacceptable." The Daily Beast "was Diller's idea," and Newsweek has only distracted him from investing more in his own baby. "Diller: Newsweek not dead yet, but get ready for big changes"

Full disclosure: Sir Harold Evans, editor-at-large of The Week, is married to Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

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