After nearly 80 years of print operations, Newsweek will print its last magazine on December 31. It will provide all its content digitally after that.
Adapt or perish.
Many print operations have not moved quickly enough to embrace the new reality. Distribution costs (huge rolls of newsprint, delivery trucks, print operators and printing presses) are a heavy drag on the bottom line forcing layoffs even among those who hold the keys to the industry’s future — the good storytellers.
Shedding distribution costs is an opportunity. Yes, it will sadly mean lost jobs and pain for those in distribution. But candle makers endured the same fate when light bulbs arrived. Too many print publishers insist that people want their papers in their hands and there will always be a need for that. Well, people loved riding their horses but when automobiles arrived, they got over it.
A Pew Research Center study indicates just 23% of adult Americans will read a print newspaper today, down from 47% in 2000. For magazines, it’s 18%, compared to 26% in 2000. Meanwhile, Newsweek states its online sister publication, The Daily Beast, attracts more than 15 million unique visitors a month, a 70 percent jump in the past year alone.
The handwriting is not only on the wall, it’s in BOLD CAPS. In a statement, Newsweek said, “we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format.”
The good news is the consumption of information has exploded due to the Internet and social media. Those who produce good content — concise, compelling stories that interests people — will own the 21st century. Since anyone on Facebook is in the publishing business, the competition is fierce. Attention is a commodity and the print industry’s focus should be on always improving content, not on clinging to dinosaurs.
Adapt or perish.
The writer, a small business owner, is a former TV news journalist and current adjunct media professor at the College of St. Rose.