With nails in the print product's coffin, the final edition of Newsweek as most know it is on stands.
The cover of the last print issue, which was released on Monday and appeared online on Sunday, is an old-school-meets-new-school tribute to itself, with a black-and-white photo of the New York City office building with the Twitter hashtag #LastPrintIssue.
The 80-year-old publication announced in October that the print edition would cease to exist come Christmas time and there would be a single online-only edition, Newsweek Global, serving as a major news source for its readers. The online-only version is available on tablet as well.
The move, which resulted from slumping advertising sales, will save the company roughly $40 million in printing costs annually, Newsweek/Daily Beast CEO Baba Shetty said.
“It's an enormously expensive undertaking that this decision gets us out from under,” Shetty told Ad Age.
Newsweek's best bet is a hybrid paid and free content model. For print readers, the digital subscription remains $24.99 per month, and Shetty says Newsweek will experiment with paywalls and metered access for non-subscribers.
“One of the big things about this direction is it gives us a lot of strategic options that we wouldn't have if we were hanging on to print,” he said. “Nobody has the right answer, but this is a model that lets us iterate.”
Newsweek merged with online The Daily Beast in 2008 when Tina Brown began her editorship. The merge was intended to give Newsweek a bigger online presence and define its online brand as slightly edgier and more demographic-appropriate. The Daily Beast attracts 15 million unique visitors a month, while Newsweek has 1.5 million subscribers.
Eliminating the print product has led to staff layoffs. The staff totaled 270, between Newsweek, The Daily Beast, and the business side. In early December, Brown said “the sad moment has come.” Poynter reports that according to unconfirmed reports, there would be 68 cuts.
In hindsight, Brown says that merging Newsweek with The Daily Beast and expecting Newsweek to remain sustainable was “insane.”
Still, she said she has high hopes for the future digital edition. In a letter published on Monday, she thanked readers.
“We are ahead of the curve,” she wrote. “A magazine that will soon turn 80 will now be, when all the changes are unveiled in February, a vigorous young publication all over again, taking its readers to territory that is new and uncharted. One thing, however, will not change, and that is our commitment to journalism of the very highest quality.”
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