Skip to comments.Newsweek Squeak
Posted on 05/06/2010 3:00:32 PM PDT by Zakeet
Last year, Newsweek redesigned itself with an eye toward failure. Literally. The newsmagazine was getting itself out of the newsmagazine business and pursuing a higher-end market through a combination of news analysis and opinion. The idea behind the magazines redesign was to hasten its contraction from a circulation over 2 million to one around 1 million, while simultaneously raising the cover price. This was not, in and of itself, a silly idea. What Newsweek and its editor, Jon Meacham, were acknowledging is that the 2 million circulation was illusory, and that the actual readership of the magazine, with people renewing their subscriptions year after year or buying it on the newsstand week after week, was half the size.
Publication circulation numbers can be raised and lowered through all sorts of means, like charging almost nothing for it, and like stretching out the time period during which you send the publication out without collecting subscription revenue before you cancel it. And its incredibly expensive to get a new subscriber this way, especially if you need to use television to do so it can cost you as much as $75 per new subscription, and you might only generate $12 in revenue for that. In other words, lets say you want 2 million, but you only generate 1 million without incurring these costs; it can cost you $50 million a year just to do so. That spending is supposed to be necessary to keep advertising rates high, since obviously you can charge more for 2 million readers than you can for 1 million. But print advertising is increasingly hard to come by. Thus the notion of raising the demographics and the cover price; maybe you cannot only spend less to put out your publication but eventually charge more for every page of ads you get. Thus, you win every which way.
It was a sensible strategy. But it didnt work. The Washington Post Co. is trying to sell Newsweek, and it may well fail, and the magazine may well close. We dont see a sustained path to profitability, said the companys chairman, Donald Graham, which is kind of an odd thing to say when youre trying to sell something. More telling is the celerity with which the magazine lost money following the redesign a year ago: "Newsweek had operating losses of $28.1 million in 2009, 82.5 percent higher than the previous years loss of $15.4 million. Its revenue declined 27.2 percent, to $165.5 million in 2009, from $227.4 million in 2008, hurt by diminished advertising and subscription revenue. One can only presume the numbers so far in 2010 are worse, otherwise the sale wouldnt be happening.
So why didnt it work?
For years, Newsweek was a liberal journal of opinion masquerading as a news publication that attempted to sell itself to a mass readership with a lot of health-care, entertainment, and lifestyle fluff.
For years, Newsweek was a liberal journal of opinion masquerading as a news publication that attempted to sell itself to a mass readership with a lot of health-care, entertainment, and lifestyle fluff. As a vehicle for news analysis, it was entirely conventional; as a purveyor of sociological fluff, it was kind of fun, though often enragingly so; as a journal of opinion, it was to actual journals of opinion as tofutti is to gelato, flavorless and bland and mock. Last year, Meacham and Co. ditched much of the news analysis and sociological fluff in favor of more and more opinion.
It will not surprise you to know that much of the opinion dealt with the ways in which Barack Obama was right and noble and good and strong and tough and resourceful and a good symbol and an agent of change and so is his wife, by the way and when it was not about that, it was primarily about how the right is at war with itself and torn and in conflict and dominated by anger and full of rage and presumptively racist and anti-gay and anti-women and anti-media. That was to be expected. But there was really almost nothing else in there, and what was there as a matter of ideological coloration wasnt especially tough or good or interesting or novel.
But in describing his redesign, there were two words that Meacham did not use, and they were liberal and opinion. Instead, he promised complexity and the publication of the argued essay a piece, grounded in reason and supported by evidence, that makes the case for something. Even with the decision to jettison news from a magazine called Newsweek, its leaders could not bring themselves to acknowledge what the magazine actually was.
And the public beheld it, and like the child in the classic New Yorker cartoon, the public said, I say its spinach, and I say the hell with it.
Actually, almost 2 million readers say "It's crap, and I say the hell with it."
Ping to Mee-Maw’s Newsweek Squeak.
” the 2 million circulation was illusory, “
I’m betting that this figure includes the dog-eared 3-year-old copy of Newsweek that hides among the Ladies Home Journals in Doctor’s waiting rooms all across the nation.....
You’ll never get rich trying to sell the public a product you think they should buy instead of a product they really want.
Even that million number of ‘subscribers’ is probably a fiction.
Doctors probably get them free.
Newsweek would be a pretty good magazine if they stayed out of social politics completely.
It was Newsweek editor, Evan Thomas who said Obama “was a sort of God”. Really. I’m not kidding. I mean it.
When I was young and stupid I subscribed to Newsweek. That ended about 25 years ago. I recently pick up a copy at my doctor’s office and could not believe how small and thin it had become. There was nothing in it I would consider “news”. I wondered why anyone would bother reading it anymore. I guess no one is.
News organizations have forgotten what their primary purpose in life is. To provide content so the publisher can sell advertising.
When news organizations decided they would rather be advocates for one side over the other rather than to report the facts, they begun the slow slide to oblivion.
Fox News is not conservative, but they do attempt to be fair. They are rewarded for this effort while publications like Newsweek are being punished for their obvious bias.
I was going to say the same thing, doctor and dentist offices is the only place you find that rag......
That's what I said about midway through the Clinton Administration.
Newsweek used to be fairly conservative, but I'm old enough to remember when Time was staunchly anti-Communist.
Let’s hope that Rush Limbaugh buys it, and asks Ann Coulter to be Executive Editor!
Then staff it with objective conservatives, and watch sales skyrocket!
I asked for, and got, a subscription to Newsweek when I was in high school (early '70's). Back then it was thoughtful and fairly dense (I also had subscriptions to Science and Scientific American). Newsweek was kind of like an American version of The Economist.
Of course, they went wild during Watergate, which broke wide open my senior year in high school. IIRC, they did more than 50 cover stories on the scandal. Every baby boomer probably remembers their cover that had Nixon's face formed out of magnetic recording tape, with two reels for the eyes.
Every branch of the MSM got so full of itself after Watergate. They had brought down a United States President, and they were beside themselves with pride and pleasure. In hindsight, there was probably no publication that took their role in Watergate more seriously than Newsweek, which was essentially the national edition of The Washington Post (although that connection was unknown to me at the time; I wasn't in the habit of reading the masthead, and the names Ben Bradlee and Kathrine Graham meant nothing to me).
My parents subscribe to it, and I see it in doctor's and dentist's offices. As has been observed by others, it's unbelivable how shrunken it is. It's just a pamphlet now, like something they hand to you as you're going into Sam's Club. A playground for some aging hacks who have never gotten over their glory years, and keep at it to maintain the illusion that they're still glamorous, witty, and influential.
I'd say it's sad, but they are so infuriating that it's hard not to gloat.
So I'm going with gloat. Gloat gloat gloat!
It couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch.
Some might say that Nixon's smiling somewhere, but I don't know about that.
Well, come to think of it, maybe I do.
It’s kinda hard to imagine Nixon smiling, at least smiling with any sincerity.