Just as many feared—or even expected—the Internet claimed another magazine last week when Newsweek announced after more than eight decades of publication that it would transition to a digital-only title in early 2013.
Quickly, the comparisons to Gourmet, the once-popular food magazine shuttered three years ago and left to live on online and in dog-eared issues of its glorious past, were made.
On its surface, yes, there are some similarities, but here’s why Newsweek will thrive—at least relatively speaking—in its digital age more than a title like Gourmet.
The “Inevitable” Death of the Newsweekly: The proclamation that the Internet will eliminate magazines period has been downgraded to the Internet will kill off the newsweeklies first. At least that’s what one digital expert announced at the American Magazine Conference in San Francisco last week. If that’s the case, it’s really no surprise, as a weekly magazine’s content is nearly obsolete by the time the printed issue has arrived—or even hit the newsstands.
A Newsweekly’s Content Is King: When readers want just the facts, there’s no substituting an established news source for an opinionated blog. (Critics might say even that line has become blurred as publications often subtly or otherwise affiliate themselves with one political leaning or other.) But the point is that readers who want news will continue to turn to Newsweek (and other newsweeklies), where Gourmet was and is competing with thousands of food bloggers offering similar content.
A Victory for News Via Tablet: Whether driven by convenience or by changing media habits, more and more smartphone and tablet owners are getting their news digitally, according to a recent study from Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. What’s most encouraging, at least for Newsweek, is that tablet users spend time reading in-depth pieces, most of which is done at home on digital devices rather than at work or on commutes.
Controversy Keeps Readers Talking: Seriously, how controversial can one gourmet meal be? Unless, of course, Newsweek’s Tina Brown is the editor behind it. Known for her shocking covers, Brown is sure to keep her newsweekly a hot topic online and in social circles, with this immediacy quite possibly giving her an edge over her printed counterparts. Then again, one has to wonder what effect this new-found advantage (if it is one) will have and what will she think of next.