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A special French-language edition of the U.S. current affairs magazine Newsweek is shown at a kiosk January 5, 2004 in Paris, France. Six months after the storied-magazine went all-digital, Barry Diller is looking to sell it off.

Newsweek is on the auction block again. Media mogul Barry Diller, who runs Newsweek’s parent company IAC/Interactive Corp., said buying the publication was a mistake and announced that he is exploring a sale.  

So what’s for sale? Newsweek went all-digital this year, so in a way, history. There is its archive of news articles, its subscriber list and it’s storied name. But that name is almost 100-years-old and is quickly growing irrelevant. Barry Diller made a similar point on Bloomberg TV recently.

“A single magazine is a fools errand if that magazine is a newsweekly,” he said. “Which is a bit of an odd phrase today, newsweekly, we have news instantly."

Part of the reason the company says its selling Newsweek is so that it can really focus on that “news instantly” idea.

Newsweek’s content is hosted by The Daily Beast, which is a daily online news outlet that’s also owned by Diller’s IAC. Reports are that hits for Newsweek’s content have been dropping. It has a tablet edition, which has about a half-a-million subscribers.

There was a time not too long ago when Newsweek had 3 million print subscribers,” says Andrew Beaujon, who reports on the media for the Poynter Institute. “It had about 1.5 million before it went digital only, but now it’s less than half a million and that number keeps dropping.”

The tablet magazine market, in general, is unproven. So Beaujon said what you’re really left with is the name, but that only takes you so far on the Web, where the competition is stiff.  

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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