Newsweek has already suffered every conceivable indignity, from being sold for a buck to being merged into the Daily Beast, a Slate wannabe, while losing most of its brand. And the news isn’t getting any better for the tediously lefty news magazine.
If you were wondering why Newsweek was humiliating itself with desperate bids for attention, it’s because the news for Newsweek isn’t good.
Barry Diller, chairman of Newsweek parent company IAC, admitted Monday that purchasing the embattled magazine was a mistake.
“I wish I hadn’t bought Newsweek. It was a mistake,” he says. “Printing a single magazine is a fool’s errand if that magazine is a newsweekly.”
“There are some magazines that have no competition essentially in their field, luxury magazines,” Diller said. “Advertisers must advertise in them. But for a news magazine … it was not possible to print it any longer. So we said we will offer a digital product. We have a very, very solid newsroom, and we’ll see. I don’t have great expectations. I wish I hadn’t bought Newsweek. it was a mistake.”
No one has great expectations including Newsweek’s employees. Diller went digital to try and cover the losses on the print edition, but going digital obviously was not a solution.
Newsweek’s plight isn’t unique. The mainstream media is flailing badly. Red ink is leaking everywhere and the ads aren’t showing up. Advertisers have too many options these days and the old large branded ad is no longer nearly as appealing as it used to be. Companies are becoming more proactive in reaching customers and less inclined to rely on a branding that clearly even Newsweek’s owners don’t believe has value anymore.
Newsweek’s challenge was to understand its readers and it chose not to do that. Now it’s the news magazine equivalent of Oldsmobile. A dead brand that people still remember.