Newsweek plans to relaunch its print magazine in 2014

In a move that seems counter-intuitive to recent magazine trends, Newsweek will be relaunching its print edition beginning in early 2014.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | December 4, 2013

The magazine has had a tumultuous history of late. After an ill fated merger with The Daily Beast, IAC, the magazine’s former owners, decided to abandon the print market entirely in late 2012. The switch reportedly saved Newsweek $40 million in production costs. The online magazine was then sold to IBT Media in August 2013. The revived print magazine, which was originally introduced in 1933, will relaunch with weekly, 64-page editions beginning in late January or early February.

In an interview with The New York Times, Editor-in-Chief Jim Impoco said that the revival was the suggestion of new owners Jonathan Davis and Etienne Uzac. He also stated that part of the idea behind the revival was a shift in business strategy. While many print magazines have relied on a model that depended heavily on advertisers on their pages, Newsweek will remain sustainable through subscriptions.

Impoco said the magazine will be closer to The Economist than Time in that it will rely only on its subscribers to off-set all production costs. In order to generate all revenue from subscribers, Newsweek will increase its subscription price. “We see it as a premium product, a boutique product,” he said.

Advertisers would be “icing on the cake,” Impoco added. With American advertising numbers suggesting a slight rebound in third quarter advertising earnings from magazines, there is the potential for Newsweek to generate significant revenue with the new approach.

CNN’s Brian Stelter speculates that most of the magazine’s print material will be available free on the Newsweek website. The challenge will be to convince current and prospective visitors to the website that investing in a print subscription is worthwhile.

When asked about the new Newsweek‘s features, Impoco remained loyal to the magazine’s mid-20th century roots: “The new Newsweek will be deeply reported and global, which is what it was when it first came out 80-odd years ago and is what it should be now.”

As a result of the shift, Newsweek has hired more than two dozen more journalists, and intends to expand its international coverage. The targeted circulation of the magazine for 2014 is 100,000.

Newsweek and Time have been rivals for more than 50 years, the latter having also undergone significant changes in recent times.

As Time prepares to spin off from the parent company Time Inc and become publicly traded, the business and journalism departments have merged. The magazine no longer has an editor-in-chief; all editors now report to the executive vice president and chief of content, with the role being filled by former Time Editor-in-Chief Norman Pearlstine. This is the first time in the magazine’s history that editors will report directly to the business side of the operation.

In an interview with the International Business Times, Pearlstine hinted at possible changes to come regarding Time‘s online contributors. The Forbes model, which relies on unpaid or lowly paid contributors, could soon be adopted by Time. While acknowledging the strategy’s critics, Pearlstine mentioned how well the new approach has worked in terms of increasing Forbes‘ online presence.

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