Start the presses! Again. Newsweek says it’s going to revive its print edition. It was just last year that Newsweek shut down its print operation and went totally digital.
New owners IBT Media, however, are going old-school on us and say they will start selling the print version of the Newsweek magazine in the first quarter of next year.
The move is risky, especially when newsstand sales of news magazines dropped 16 percent on average last year. That’s after years of losing readers, not to mention advertisers. Newsweek editor-in-chief and self-described crusty magazine veteran Jim Impoco says he can’t take credit for the move.
“Most people are assuming that I talked my 31-year-old owners into getting back into print but it’s the opposite,” says Impoco.
Impoco says the revived Newsweek magazine will be paid for mostly with subscriptions, not ad revenue. He calls it a “boutique” product. That generally means a smaller readership with a bigger pricetag.
“There will be more emphasis on reporting, deep reporting,” says Impoco. “Creating our own weather. Making news. And if we cover the news we won’t pile on the same stories that everyone else is doing. We’ll try to bring something extra to the table.”
But first Newsweek has to re-make an 80-year-old brand. Tom Rosenstiel, a former Newsweek reporter who now heads the American Press Institute says that will be tough.
“You’re creating a new product, a new identity in a marketplace that’s even more crowded than it was,” says Rosenstiel.
Newsweek seems to be betting that all that noise may have some of us yearning for more reflective journalism. Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research for the Pew Research Center, says news junkies are already reading longer articles on their digital tablets.
“So there’s a question of whether people are willing to bring that back to the print side,” she says.
Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, says physical magazines can help drive traffic to the digital version. They also are an efficient way of promoting the brand.
“How are people going to find you if you’re only digital?” asks Husni. After all, your dentist can’t leave a Newsweek app lying around the waiting room.