Washington Post to sell Newsweek

Jeremy Hobson May 5, 2010
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Washington Post to sell Newsweek

Jeremy Hobson May 5, 2010
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Kai Ryssdal: The troubles in the media business aren’t really news anymore. Papers and magazines that have been around for decades are barely hanging on. A lot of them aren’t hanging on at all. The Washington Post has owned Newsweek since the ’60s. Today the Post’s chairman says it’s time to sell.

Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson reports.


JEREMY HOBSON: Newsweek has been losing millions of dollars a year since 2007.

NYU journalism professor Robert Boynton says the magazine has fallen through the cracks of the modern news landscape.

ROBERT BOYNTON: The articles are neither so short you can read them on your iPhone, nor so long that you want to sit down for an hour. And they’re not timely enough, nor are they really analytical enough.

Boynton says he doesn’t expect Newsweek will find a buyer who wants to keep it in its current former, a la BusinessWeek, which was recently snatched up by Bloomberg News.

Porter Bibb was once Newsweek’s White House correspondent and later ran the magazines international editions. He’s now managing partner at Media Tech Capital Partners. He says the Washington Post is more than familiar with the problems facing Newsweek.

PORTER BIBB: It’s the newspaper problem compounded. Television, the Internet, makes a magazine that comes out once a week almost irrelevant.

HOBSON: So who on earth would want to buy a newsweekly at this point?

BIBB: Well the brand is worth a lot, and they still have a couple of million subscribers who would follow the brand wherever it goes.

Maybe to an Internet company, like Yahoo, which Bibb says could benefit from Newsweek’s reputation. Or perhaps, he says, Newsweek will find a new following on devices like the iPad.

Does Bibb think we’ll be able to buy the print edition of Newsweek at an airport newsstand in 10 years?

BIBB: I don’t think you’re going to find newsstands at airports or anywhere else in 10 years because print is really on its last legs.

In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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