We’ve been hearing more and more about the death of print journalism, the death of print, just death. (I can’t tell you the number of times in a given day people come up to me and just say, “Die.” I’m trying not to take it personally.)
There used to be the Saturday Evening Post, and Look, and Life, and Larry. (Whatever happened to Larry? He borrowed my scissors and never returned them. And they were good scissors.)
The all-digital version of the magazine will be called Newsweek Global and operated on a paid subscription model. The name Newsweek, in spite of its trouble in print, still has value in terms of international licensing, as well as several conferences Ms. Brown has created.
Losses at the weekly continued to mount even after the sale in 2010 to Sidney Harman, a 92-year-old audio magnate. He bought the property for a dollar and eventually, with Ms. Brown, merged it with the The Daily Beast, the web site owned by InterActive Corps.
The future grew grimmer still after Mr. Harman died in the spring of 2011. His heirs had said that they would continue to support the ailing weekly, but last summer the family announced they would no longer invest in the magazine.
Losses at the magazine have been reported to be about $40 million a year and Barry Diller, the chairman of IAC, which owns both The Daily Beast and Newsweek, made it clear that he would not underwrite the losses forever.
“Our offices have been filled with consultants running around with lists of people, so we knew something was about to happen,” said one staff member, who insisted on anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak and was worreid [sic] about potential layoffs.
Keep that thought.
There are three lessons here: (1) Never think you can save a dying magazine with tabloidy cover stories written by people from whom you would expect better (perhaps foolishly). (2) Never think you can save a dying magazine by hiring Tina Brown. (3) Never think you can save a dying magazine.
I remember the salad days of my own celebrity tabloid: Fenster. I ran it on a shoestring budget, did all the reporting, editing, layout, and graphic design myself. I distributed it door to door to save on postage. I still couldn’t make a go of it.
And always the same question: “Who’s Fenster?”
I probably should have picked a different celebrity.