Newsweek Is Going All-Digital in 2013

Tina Brown - John Jay College Justice Awards - P - 2011
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The print magazine will take its final bow with the Dec. 31 issue, says editor Tina Brown.

Newsweek will go fully digital starting early next year, editor Tina Brown has announced.

In a Thursday-morning post on The Daily Beast, the magazine's sibling website, Brown wrote: "Newsweek will transition to an all-digital format in early 2013. As part of this transition, the last print edition in the United States will be our Dec. 31 issue."

"Meanwhile, Newsweek will expand its rapidly growing tablet and online presence, as well as its successful global partnerships and events business," she continued.

During the past few months, IAC chairman Barry Diller has hinted that Newsweek could soon become web-only, At a conference call in July to discuss IAC's second quarter financials, Diller addressed the future of Newsweek Daily Beast, which the company controls after the family of the late stereo mogul Sidney Harman said it would no longer invest in the struggling newsmagazine and website.

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Diller suggested that the time could be near for Newsweek's transition to an online publication, saying that the magazine -- which merged with The Daily Beast in 2010 -- is a stronger brand than it was when IAC acquired it that year and crediting Brown and her staff for the improvements. But he also said that IAC's investment next year will be "considerably less" than it is this year.

Following 80 years as a print title, Newsweek in its digital makeover will be called Newsweek Global, "a single, worldwide edition targeted for a highly mobile, opinion-leading audience who want to learn about world events in sophisticated context," said Brown in her memo.

"Newsweek Global 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," she added.

Brown said The Daily Beast has 15-plus unique visitors per month, up 70 percent in the past year, attributing the extra traffic and eyeballs to Newsweek's "strong original journalism."

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"At the same time, our business has been increasingly affected by the challenging print advertising environment, while Newsweek’s online and e-reader content has built a rapidly growing audience through the Apple, Kindle, Zinio and Nook stores as well as on The Daily Beast," she observed. "Tablet-use has grown rapidly among our readers and with it the opportunity to sustain editorial excellence through swift, easy digital distribution — a superb global platform for our award-winning journalism."

In an all-staff memo, posted Thursday on Newsweek's Tumblr site, Brown said the digital transition "comes with an unfortunate reality" of expected layoffs and that the company would share details about organizational restructuring in the ensuing weeks.

Brown said there will be an 11 a.m. employee town hall meeting to address questions on the changes.

On MSNBC's Morning Joe, Time Magazine editor Richard Stengel was asked about the news. He said, "We've certainly moved past seeing them as a single competitor," adding that competition is now digital and global.

Asked about the viability of Time continuing to publish a print publication, he acknowledged that print costs were the "single most expensive thing" and said that it becomes a "premium product" for advertisers, but didn't directly rule out that Time's digital-only time is coming.