After 80 years in print Newsweek to stop the presses and go digital-only

Current affairs magazine Newsweek is scrapping its print edition after 80 years and going digital only.

The magazine told readers via its Daily Beast website that it had “reached a tipping point” and would publish its last print edition on 31 December 2012.

“We are transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it,” said editor-in-chief Tina Brown.

“We remain committed to Newsweek and to the journalism that it represents. This decision is not about the quality of the brand or the journalism—that is as powerful as ever. It is about the challenging economics of print publishing and distribution.”

Newsweek’s Europe, Middle East and Africa edition has an average weekly circulation of 192,469 according to the latest ABC figures, down from 202,296 four years ago. As of the end of last year it had a global print circulation of around 1.5m.

In place of the print edition, Brown said Newsweek will expand its tablet and online presence, with the “all-digital” publication being renamed Newsweek Global.

It will be supported by paid subscription and will be available through e-readers for both tablet and the web, with select content available on The Daily Beast.

Brown, who is also editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast, said: “Four years ago we launched The Daily Beast. Two years later, we merged our business with the iconic Newsweek magazine—which The Washington Post Company had sold to Dr Sidney Harman.

“Since the merger, both The Daily Beast and Newsweek have continued to post and publish distinctive journalism and have demonstrated explosive online growth in the process. The Daily Beast now attracts more than 15 million unique visitors a month, a 70 percent increase in the past year alone—a healthy portion of this traffic generated each week by Newsweek’s strong original journalism.”

She added that “at the same time, our business has been increasingly affected by the challenging print advertising environment”,

Brown quoted figures from the Pew Research Centre showing that 39 percent of Americans get their news from online sources.

“In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format,” she said.

“This was not the case just two years ago. It will increasingly be the case in the years ahead.

The company said it anticipates staff reduction with the “streamlining of our editorial and business operations both here in the U.S. and internationally” but did not provide any figures.

Brown added: “Exiting print is an extremely difficult moment for all of us who love the romance of print and the unique weekly camaraderie of those hectic hours before the close on Friday night.

“But as we head for the 80th anniversary of Newsweek next year we must sustain the journalism that gives the magazine its purpose—and embrace the all-digital future.”

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