The proverbial “turning of the final page” could not be more literal in the case of Newsweek as nearly 80 years of print publications have come to an end as the magazine transitions to an all-digital format. The iconic magazine, which has become famous for its cover images, released its final cover on Monday. The shot is a picture of its former Manhattan, New York office building with the simple phrase “#LASTPRINTISSUE;” emblematic of the prowess of social and digital media today that has forced publications to adapt or become extinct. Christopher Sacca, a manager of holding company Lowercase Capital and Twitter investor, tweeted, “Newsweek’s last print issue has a just a hashtag on the cover. Like using your final breath to ID the killer.” Well said, Chris.
Newsweek is now part of The Daily Beast, a free news/commentary website controlled by NYC-based IAC/Interactive Corp. (IACI). Newsweek was owned by Washington Post Co. (WPO) from 1961 to 2010 when it sold the magazine to tycoon Sidney Harman for $1, reflecting the desperate situation of the magazine. Harman followed the acquisition with a merger with The Daily Beast. Tina Brown is the editor-in-chief and founder of The Newsweek Daily Beast Company.
The Daily Beast draws more than 15 million unique monthly visitors each month, a 70 percent growth in the past year, according to their website.
In October, Newsweek said that it would be switching to an online-only format with its last print edition to be the December 31 issue; putting to rest a print legacy that began with a first issue dated February 17, 1933. Costing only 10 cents, that issue’s cover featured seven images of the time, including incoming President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Russian leader Joseph Stalin and German Chancellor Adolph Hitler. An annual subscription cost $4 at that time.
In 2012, a single issue cost $4.99 and an annual subscription cost $24.99. The new online-only magazine, now called “Newsweek Global,” will carry the same price tag.
In an October statement announcing the unwinding of the print version of Newsweek, Brown and co-author Baba Shetty (the CEO of The Newsweek Daily Beast Company) explained, “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.”
Brown and Shetty were clear in the fact that this is a “transition” for Newsweek, not a “goodbye.”
Like many other print publications, Newsweek’s print circulation figures have plummeted in recent years. Since 2005, subscriptions to the print version have dropped from about 3 million to 1.5 million while advertising revenue plunged more than 80 percent as companies continue a paradigm shift to allocating funds to target consumers online.
IAC Interactive has more than 50 brands under its umbrella, including being the majority stakeholder in Newsweek/Daily Beast. Other brands include the popular dating site Match.com, video-sharing/pay-per-view movie company Vimeo LLC and information portals Ask.com and Thesaurus.com.
Shares of IACI are up about 10 percent in 2012 with Monday’s close at $46.51.
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