In a message posted on The Daily Beast, Ms. Brown announced that Newsweek would cease print publication at the end of the year and move to an all-digital format. The transition, she wrote, would include layoffs, and at a staff meeting Thursday morning, she grew teary-eyed when she told employees that she didn’t know how many people would be let go.
There are no shortage of prognostications about what the future holds and no shortage of people giving advice on how to adapt to the new reality. But the reality is that they will have carve out their own path and identity in order to survive as anything more than a small sub-section of The Daily Beast.
It’s always tragic to see a once-revered publication fall by the wayside like this. And it’s hard not to view the news in a unique way considering it came at roughly the same time the Chicago Tribune announced it was putting an online paywall in place and that Penske Media, which recently bought Variety, had named someone already with that magazine as the new publisher instead of bringing in someone from one of its web-only properties. It seems sometimes that the only media brand that’s thriving is Buzzfeed, which announced it’s opening a west coast-based entertainment-focused office as it continues to redefine the media world, including blurring the lines between article and advertisement.
As some have said, it will be interesting to see what the next couple months of print editions at Newsweek look like considering how everyone knows its fate. But it’s important to remember that while, yes, the medium is often the message, the medium does not automatically determine the quality of the message. Newsweek – as well as any other news media – can produce great media on the web as an online/tablet-only outlet in the same way a print magazine can be absolutely terrible. What it comes down to ultimately is what sort of values those producing it are doing their jobs with and what sort of commitment they hold to retaining the trust and loyalty of the audience.