Newsweek to shut down print edition and go all digital

December 31 will mark the last print edition for the news magazine as it makes the jump to an all-digital format.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read
The Daily Beast

After an 80-year stint, Newsweek is cancelling its print publication and will go all digital come 2013.

The news was revealed today on the Daily Beast, the online news site that merged with Newsweek in 2010. Daily Beast and Newsweek editor Tina Brown and Baba Shetty, CEO of the combined company, said that the December 31 edition will be the magazine's last print version.

Known as Newsweek Global, the new digital edition will provide news and information on a worldwide scale. Access to Newsweek Global will be available via paid subscriptions for both Web and tablet users. Certain content will also appear on the Daily Beast site.

Faced with dwindling print sales, many magazines have turned all digital. But the impact seems to hit harder when a publication like Newsweek makes the switch. Along with Time, Newsweek has been one of the nation's core news magazines, gracing newsstands since 1933.

In explaining the decision to turn digital, Brown and Shetty cited a recent Pew study, which said that 39 percent of Americans find their news online, up from 33 percent just two years ago. In line with that trend, the Daily Beast now brings in more than 15 million unique visitors each month, a jump of 20 percent over the past year.

Brown and Shetty didn't reveal the readership numbers for the print edition of Newsweek. But Newsweek's entry in Wikipedia cited a drop in worldwide circulation of 4 million in 2003 to just 1.5 million in 2010. CNN reported a paid circulation of just 1.2 million over the past 12 months.

They did admit that business has been impacted by challenges in the print ad market. Newsweek's revenue from print advertising dropped $334 million, or 70 percent, from 2007 to 2011, CNN noted. At the same time, Newsweek's online and mobile editions have claimed higher readership, especially among tablet users.

"In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format," Brown and Shetty said.

The move to all digital will also lead to some staff layoffs and other cutbacks around the world.

"Newsweek is produced by a gifted and tireless team of professionals who have been offering brilliant work consistently throughout a tough period of ownership transition and media disruption," Brown and Shetty said. "Regrettably we anticipate staff reductions and the streamlining of our editorial and business operations both here in the U.S. and internationally."

The two also expressed a note of sadness in the loss of the print publication, but clearly see digital as the road ahead.

"Exiting print is an extremely difficult moment for all of us who love the romance of print and the unique weekly camaraderie of those hectic hours before the close on Friday night," they said. "But as we head for the 80th anniversary of Newsweek next year we must sustain the journalism that gives the magazine its purpose -- and embrace the all-digital future."