Today Newsweek announced that they were ceasing print publication and going all digital. For a national general-interest weekly news-magazine, that’s tantamount to saying that you’re dead but you don’t feel like lying down just yet.
Back in 2009, you may remember Newsweek‘s decision to remake itself as a liberal opinion weekly, an odd financial choice in a country where conservatives outnumber liberals nearly 2-to-1. Since then Newsweek has managed the amazing feat of hemorrhaging readers faster than other print publications. Then the Washington Post company decided to sell the venerable newsweekly to Sidney Harman for $1, screwing its shareholders but keeping the magazine’s money-losing liberal slant under Tina Brown’s editorship. Hired to steer the ship around the iceberg, Brown instead decided to teach the iceberg who’s boss by ramming it a few more times.
Vast swathes of legacy print media are in trouble in the Internet-era, but Newsweek‘s demise is more like an assisted suicide than a graceful decline. It’s like a Type II diabetic who had already lost three toes deciding to immediately go on a diet consisting entirely of ice cream.
Newsweek had a choice between being profitable and being liberal, and they chose liberal.