Friday, October 19, 2012

Newsweek To Go All-Digital

"When I returned to print with Newsweek, it did very quickly begin to feel to me (like) an outmoded medium. While I still had a great romance for it, nonetheless I feel this is not the right medium anymore to produce journalism." - Tina Brown editor-in-chief.

Well, that's the way to go for the print media. Even a giant and an icon like Newsweek which has been around for nearly 80 years has to go with the flow or go bust...

So, when it's time to go, it's time to, that is.

Newsweek is one of the most internationally recognized magazine brands in the world. In face of stiff competition from tablets and mobile devices, its exces have decided to cease publishing the magazine in print.

The final print edition of this weekly current affairs magazine will hit newsstands on Dec 31.

Well, it has finally happened. 


IT.Sheiss said...


You committed one of those sins of journalism - i.e. the half-truth.

The full headline of the Forbes article is:-

"Newsweek Going Digital-Only; Layoffs Coming"

Your headline omitted the second part ",Layoffs Coming."

This quote from the Forbes article is the crux of the issue:-

"Whether either outlet will continue to operate at its current level of editorial output was unclear from the announcement, which said only that layoffs in the overall organization are expected: “Regrettably we anticipate staff reductions and the streamlining of our editorial and business operations both here in the U.S. and internationally.”

How many online-only publications are profitable and among those few which are, how many make as much from advertising as print can.

The shift of readership from print to online is inevitable but publishers find themselves trapped in a dilemma of damned if they do, damned if they don't (move online).

Studies in the U.S. have found that for every dollar gained in online ad revenue, between $8 to $10 are lost in print ad revenue.

So how to sustain hundreds of journalists in reasonably well paid and secure employment like at The Star, NST, Utusan, Berita Harian, Sin Chew, the Tamil papers, etc?

While I haven't updated it recently, read my blog, where I have commented on the future of journalism as a viable paying career on which journalists can depend on for a living:-



I did?

i thought the crux of it is that it is going to be an only-online magazine.

staff lay-offs would be obvious.

but thank you for pointing it out, anyway.

IT.Sheiss said...


True. To your credit, you provided a link to the original source story.

However,in your commentary, you seemed to imply that going online-only was the way to go, inline with the times, or something like that.

Good that you see resultant job losses as "obvious." As one who writes about the information technology industry, especially the Internet lifestyle, I've heard no end of slated rhetoric by journalists who portray themselves as new media "consultants," who only paint a rosy picture about going digital, without mentioning the actual real world experience of those who have.

In a commentary, one of these "cunsultants" mentioned the Seattle Post Intelligencer going online-only as an example for others without citing the layoffs and that it's not profitable even three years later.

This "consultant" also cited the Christian Science Monitor as going online, giving the impression that it went online-only, when it in fact, continued with a weekly print edition carrying non time-sensitive articles and an online part carrying the breaking news.

The Seattle Post Intelligence continues to survive only because it's backed by its owner Hearst, while the Christian Science Monitor is published by the Church of Christ Scientist in Boston and even till today is not profitable but survives on subsidies by the church.

Anyway, take a look at this Reuters article carried by The Malaysian Insider.

Even the next "sacred cow" - i.e. mobile isn't safe and Google's share price dropped precipitously recently.

All this prompted me to start my blog and e-mail postings as IT.Sheiss.



perhaps I wasn't detailed enough in my posting. It wasn't a commentary. Perhaps I was too sweeping in my remarks.

I am a dinosaur. really. while i embrace the digital age (we have no choice really)..all the devices and gadgets that are the mainstay of this age and era...i am an endangered specie.

I am so sad that Newsweek is going fully online. But that's sentimental.
But it is drastic even in this digital environment. I had thought their convergence with the Daily Beast was a positive move -- a happy compromise because I am a reader of the magazine. don't subscribe to Newsweek but I buy the magazine,, the economist and all those magazines, even though I read them online as well.
Force of habit - whatever.

My circle of friends - mostly print journalists - discuss a lot on this subject.

i suppose for as long as there are people like me who still enjoy reading the newspaper, books and magazines in the current "outmoded" won't be the death of these publications in print.

i can go on about the statistics and data on circulation and ad revencue in the print media in the country and the fact that the digital-only transformation/transition is so western-centric.. but i will leave to the analysts.
thank you.

Anonymous said...

thank you.. I have read the article.

IT.Sheiss said...

Dear Nuraini,

"I am a dinosaur. really. while i embrace the digital age (we have no choice really)..all the devices and gadgets that are the mainstay of this age and era...i am an endangered specie."

Please don't disparage yourself in such manner. Pardon me for suspecting that you have been influenced by the marketing hype, hoohah, bullshit and ballyhoo of the IT industry and liars and charlatans posing as "new media consultants."

They only want us to be good consumers to enrich them, so they promote and encourage a consumer society which is detrimental to our personal wealth and the environment, while the "consultants" would love to get unsuspecting suckers to pay them top ringgit to advise old media to go new.

There is nothing wrong with reading print media. It still is the best way to read something, especially when you need to concentrate.

While I read a lot on a PC screen, still if I had to read a long, detailed report, paper or article, I'd rather read it in print, rather than to scroll up and down online.

Also, don't have to dance to the tune of those who tell you that you need to have an iPad, iPhone, Android tablet, be on Facebook, Twitter, etc to be up to date and in with the crowd.

May I share with you what I wrote to my friend who is editor of The Analyst, a startup financial & economic magazine based in Kelana Jaya which recently launched an iPad and Android edition.

If you look through the links from 2010 till 2012 you will see a pattern.

However, iPad editions constitute a small proportion of overall print magazine circulation.

Here is some recent positive news regarding iPad magazines

Much of the very negative reports are dated 2010 or early 2011.

However, while Hearst believes iPad sales are the future, its own iPad
sales of 600,000 are still small compared to its combined print magazine
sales of 12 million. The report below is dated May 2012.

An interesting point which emerges from reports of magazine sales by
Conde Nast, Hearst, Future, etc is that while print newspaper sales are
dropping and newspapers are going out of business in the US, sales of
print magazines are still doing well.

So there must be a different reason for decline in newspaper sales and I
think it could be due to public mistrust in the reporting of newspapers
in the U.S., especially regarding political, foreign policy and economic

IT.Sheiss said...


"i can go on about the statistics and data on circulation and ad revencue in the print media in the country and the fact that the digital-only transformation/transition is so western-centric.. but i will leave to the analysts."

Perhaps you should go on and on and share your perspective on the issue.

According to Ross Dawson's Newspaper Extinction Timeline (you can search Google for it), print newspapers will be extinct first in the 2017, followed by other countries in subsequent years. He predicts print newspapers to become extinct in Malaysia, Croatia, France and Israel in 2029.

While his timeline is worth noting, I would not take it as a certainty. He has not adequately answered my question as to his methodology and criteria for arriving at such a timeline.

However, from what I see, ABC Malaysia's figures show no decline in total newspaper readership in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah & Sarawak.

As you must know, the circulation of paid English newspapers such as NST, The Star, etc has dropped but circulation of free newspapers such as The Sun has risen to make up for it.

Among Malay language newspapers, circulation of the the serious papers have dropped, while those of the trivial tabloids has increased.

Part of the reason could be a shift to online readership, especially web, which is free and an exodus by a fair number to alternative online Malaysian media and blogs, and to foreign mainstream and alternative media and blogs.

The low barriers to entry here has resulted in a proliferation os such sites, which has diluted opportunities for ad revenue for a particular publication.

From my personal experience of running an online tech portal, I found that stories written based upon face to face interviews, coverage of events, local product and services reviews received more hits than articles reproduced based upon reports elsewhere and from press releases.

After all, reports from journalists on the ground have an originality which has more value than a report based upon second hand information in other reports accessed over the Internet.

It's like if NST had a journalist in the US reporting directly on the U.S. presidential election from the ground, it would have more value than one by a journalist writing about the elections based upon reports in U.S. newspapers.

IT.Sheiss said...


Back to media access on handheld devices and PCs, based upon the experience of some electronic devices, it is possible that print media could eventually make a comeback, especially if print costs can be contained.

You may remember how digital watches were the rave throughout the 1980s but automatic mechanical watches and quartz analogue watches made a comeback in in the late 80s or early 90s and have remained so till today.

Computers began with huge, expensive mainframe computers in centralised locations connected to dumb terminals for input and output.

Later, they were more widely dispersed to branch offices as smallar and cheaper minicomputers and ended up on people's desks and on their laps as PCs.

However, as soon as this huge de-centralisation happened, a process of re-consolidation began with servers and client PCs and today, the big buzzword is cloud computing, where banks of hundreds or thousands of servers are centralised in data centres, where they do the heavy number crunching and are accessed remotely from PCs and tablet devices.

So we are back to the same scenario as the old mainframe & terminal days, except that today's terminals aren't as dumb and are graphical, rather than text-based.

Talk to any hi-fi (NOT WI-FI) enthusiast and he/she wil tell you that valve amplifiers sound much more authentic than transistor amplifiers.

Valve amplifiers have made a comeback, much more refined and much more compact and at premium prices.

While digital cameras are the rave these days and yes, they are much more convenient to use for media photography but still film cameras are still used by professional photographers to take highly quality photography.

Also look at the regular Chinese coffee shop and the rise of pricier outlets with a traditional decor such as Ipoh White Coffee, Killeney, Pappa Rich, etc.

It is quite possible that this shift to online and digital media is a temporary detour which will come full circle back to print.

Like digital watches, this move to digital media could be a temporary fad but people will eventually revert to what they are most comfortable with.

My university lecturer advised us to regard computers as a our servo (slave) and for us to become as slave to computers.

Also, video has not killed the radio star after all these years, has it?


IT> Sheiss,
thank your for the engagement.
you know...nothing can influence me at this point in my life.
we have to go with the flow because tht isthe world now.
but you know...for as long as they have people like me..and you...newspapers wil never die..but look at Newsweek.
do read my column in the NST yesterday...

anyway..i still like reading my newsPAPERS, magazines and books in its old romantic way...and that is a luxury..

anyway..thanks again,,,appreciate your passion...

IT.Sheiss said...

Dear Nuraini,

"anyway..i still like reading my newsPAPERS, magazines and books in its old romantic way...and that is a luxury.".

"anyway..thanks again,,,appreciate your passion..."

Thanks. And, read any way you want.

I rarely buy newspapers nowadays but read online on my PC.

However, I have a certain nostalgia about reading newspapers while having the morning coffee.

Back in those days before the Internet, print newspapers and news magazines were the only way to get news, albeit yesterday's news, besides radio and the previous night's news at 10 and we waited with anticipation for the morning newspapers.

The only way to get foreign news faster was on shortwave radio.

Since printing presses are far too expensive for the average citizen to own, the relatively few newspapers were our only gateway to the news.

The Internet changed all that by making it almost free for anyine with a PC and an Internet connection to access especially foreign news directly. Like if I want to read about the U.S. presidential elections, I would just go to a U.S. news website. Last night, I downloaded full videos of the Romney - Obama debate from You Tube - so why read or hear about it second hand when I can get it right from the horse's mouth.

I've e-mailed you at your address. Reply to me from your private address if you want.

Now let me see if I can find your NST article.

All the best.