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Ed Driscoll

Newsweek: The Last Days

July 26th, 2012 - 11:51 am

In late 2008, Newsweek, then under control of the Washington Post, decided to make its audience as selective as possible, Spinal Tap style, by becoming, as Andrew Ferguson wrote at the Weekly Standard, “a liberal opinion magazine written by liberals who don’t want to admit they’re liberals.” In early 2009, the magazine decided to go on the record, declaring, “We Are All Socialists Now” on one of its last memorable covers. (We can assume by inference that that statement included most of the gang at its then-parent company as well.) In 2010, those socialists received a miniature version of Obama’s “stimulus” program, with the Post offloading its sinking enterprise to Sidney Harman (and his wife, then a liberal Democrat Congresswoman in California) for a buck. With Sidney having gone off to the great hi-fi shop in the sky the following year, Newsweek soldiered on with Tina Brown as editor, producing wafer-thin print editions with such cutting edge cover stories as Princess Di, Hillary Clinton, and Woody Allen.

Fortunately, it will soon be safe to return to your supermarket checkout aisle. As it must to all dinosaurs, death will be forthcoming for Citizen Newsweek:

Barry Diller, the chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp which recently acquired sole control of Newsweek, said that a plan to end its print edition is coming as soon as this fall. His comments came in IAC’s quarterly earnings call and were first reported in a two-sentence story by Bloomberg News’s Sarah Frier (“Newsweek, the 79-year-old magazine, will eventually transition to an online-only publication”) and then in a tweet from her colleague Edmund Lee (“Barry Diller says by September-October, plan for digital only Newsweek will be announced”). The first actual quote from Diller came later in a post by Politico’s Dylan Byers: “The transition will happen. The transition to online from hard print will take place. We’re examining all of our options.”

That doesn’t sound like the print edition is going to end imminently, and an IAC spokesperson followed up with Byers with a statement confirming the September or October target for the announcement of a plan to transition to digital.

The online version of the Daily Beast will soldier on, but to understand how far the mighty have fallen, recall John Podhoretz’s article on the rarefied air that weekly news magazine journalists breathed at the genre’s zenith a few decades ago. Is Time-Warner-CNN-HBO investigating a similar online-only option for its weekly opinion magazine, which was once, nine decades ago, the inventor of the genre of weekly news magazine, now rendered anathema by the speed of the Internet? Presumably.

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