The end of Newsweek as a print publication. Should you actually care?

Posted by on October 22nd, 2012

This week one of the three big news weekly magazines announced that it was ceasing print of the physical version of its publication. After a good amount of breast beating amongst the media, I have been asked by friends and colleagues if we should care that Newsweek is going digital only.

My answer to that question is an unequivocal “No.” Honestly, as much as a I love the feel of newsprint, the tactile, emotional bond of holding a print magazine in my hands, the announcement that Newsweek is ending print publication and heading to a digital only version is neither a surprising nor saddening event.

I’m 42 years old. I’ve been working in public relations full-time since 1999 and in communications since 1996. I’m old. I was taught to read newspapers with stained fingers, and some of my best memories of high school are in the library at lunch reading The New York Times.  I love the news. It’s one of the reasons I am in public relations.  Not only do I love it, I respect it and its traditions. If anyone would be depressed by the Newsweek announcement you’d think it would be me. Know what? I LOVE the new digital formats for the publications I read every day/week/month. I already read the WSJ, the NYTimes, Newsweek (already) and Bloomberg BusinessWeek on my iPad. I don’t think it will be long before Forbes, Fortune, Time and pretty much nearly every other publication switches to a digital only format.

I had a conversation with a reporter friend of mine from Forbes yesterday and he was lamenting the “death” of Newsweek. I reminded him that US News & World Report went digital only two years ago.

Given the economics of the news business, why is it a surprise that Newsweek (which was purchased by TheDaily Beast) went digital only? Why pay for paper, ink, printing plants, etc. when you can, for a fraction of the cost, distribute your content more broadly, quickly and in a WAAAY more trackable fashion.

There are now more than 1 BILLION smart phones worldwide and in the US nearly 75% of us own smart phones. People are reading on their phones at a growing and staggering rate.  Once this stuff comes along… you can say goodbye to any more print publications.