Do We Still Need General-Interest Newsweeklies?


One of the reactions to the news that Newsweek will combine with The Daily Beast was coming up with a new joint name for the two money-losing-but-worthwhile publications.

In Newsweek Weds Daily Beast? Good Luck, The New York Times’ David Carr clearly doesn’t think that marriage can be saved. The print edition of the Times called the new combined outlet NewsBeast.

Which is better than the name that really symbolizes the problem: The DailyWeek.

Or the actual name of the new parent company, The Newsweek Daily Beast Company.

Given the estimated combined $35,5 million in estimated annual loses of the two combined companies, the more serious question is: do we still need general-interest newsweeklies?

Or, in blogese: 2010: The Year Newsweeklies Died. (That’s because I see so many blog posts claiming something else we’ve all used has died, like email, press releases, etc.)

I actually don’t think press releases have died, and I think email will be replaced by texting among people 28+ (those under 28 don’t use email).

But I do think the age of the general-interest newsweekly has passed. Time is still around, but its circulation is half of what is was at the start of this century. US News is fading away. And while the print edition of Newsweek seems likely to continue — for now — its online version,, will be shut down in order to drive traffic to the Daily Beast.

The only newsweekly that appears to be doing well is The Economist. I also like Bloomberg BusinessWeek and The New York Times’ Week in Review section, that is published on Sundays. But neither The Economist nor Bloomberg BusinessWeek are general interest publications — they’re designed as overviews for people interested in business. There are some other weeklies, but they seem to have a specific political perspective (which puts them into a different category from general interest).

Yes, I know there are lots of other weekly magazines…like People, US, etc. — but those are celebrity and entertainment publications, not general interest. Since we live in an age that seems obsessed with celebrities (including those whose names are known even if they seem to have no real discernible talent), I don’t think the death of the general-interest newsweekly will impact People, US or the others.

In the end, I think it’s difficult for readers to justify subscriptions to a general-interest newsweekly — and difficult for advertisers to justify advertising in them unless they want to target an older demographic.

Meanwhile, the people behind a campaign — seems like staffers or former staffers, makes the following worthwhile points:

  • What will be the ramifications for Newsweek’s Web presence in terms of SEO? For branding? For our partnerships with MSNBC and MSN? What happens to Newsweek’s (still-unleveraged) archives? How do you preserve a “national treasure” (as Harman has called it) without a Web presence bearing its name?
  • By rolling into The Daily Beast, the hope—at least according to the Times—would be to absorb the some of the 5 million unique visitors Newsweek clocks each month. But at least 60 percent of those visitors come in through the back door, through Newsweek’s partnership with MSNBC, links on MSN, Newsweek’s Twitter feed, its Tumblr, and elsewhere. If less than half of Newsweek readers log onto’s actual homepage, how much traffic will really be gained? Certainly not five million uniques.

What do you think? Are newsweeklies dead yet or just going to evolve?

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