What is a weekly news magazine without its own website? We are about to find out as according to The New York Newseeek editor Tina Brown has decided to shutter the ailing magazine’s website and redirect visitors to The Daily Beast.
This really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as rumors circulated to this effect when it was announced that Newsweek and The Daily Beast were merging last year. In an effort to squash those rumors Brown tweeted last last year:
“Woah! Newsweek.com’s superb content will live on under its own banner & in URLs on the new site. Not shutting down, combining.”
Yes she promised Newsweek.com would live on, but she didn’t say for how long and now the time has come to end the charade.
In February Brown effectively wrote the obituary for the site when Newsweek.com severed its traffic ties to MSNBC which had been providing by some estimates as much as one-third of Newsweek.com’s visitors in preparation to integrate the two sites.
By then with the merger completed Brown no longer had to hide her plans to kill Newsweek.com and it was only a matter of time as to when it would happen.
It’s hard to imagine the print magazine succeeding without its own branded website, but maybe that was the plan all along. After all Newsweek was sold by the Washington Post Company because it was bleeding red ink but Donald Graham couldn’t bear to shut it down so he found a willing and rich liberal in Sidney Harman to take it off his hands with the promise that he would continue to publish the magazine.
But Harman has since passed away and despite assurances that the magazine will continue to publish, doubts are surfacing. Brown’s makeover has hit a few bumps like the July 4th Princess Di cover which was scorned by critics as being insensitive to her memory. And advertising which is the life blood of magazines has been all over the map showing that advertisers aren’t convinced that Newsweek is here to stay.
Without Harman, the real decision over the future of the magazine will rest with Barry Diller the chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp who started The Daily Beast and is clearly favors digital over print.
Just a few months ago at the tech conference SXSW Diller said Newseek was “becoming more and more irrelevant as a weekly news magazine” as news breaks at an ever increasing speed and that The Daily Beast had deeper stories they wanted to cover so they infused the Beast into the magazine.
He then told the audience that he wasn’t sure it would work . “We’ll see in six or eight months,” he said.
That means Diller and Brown may be reevaluating the current arrangement sometime in the fall or at the very latest at the end of the year. Based on how things have gone so far the future looks awfully bleak for Newsweek.
Diller is a businessman, Harman was a billionaire philanthropist.
In the end the business side will win out leaving what print readers are left to search elsewhere for their news.