web analytics

Newsweek’s owners have stopped printing the magazine and announced plans for the title to live on in an “all digital format”.

In other words Newsweek is dead. Apparently there will be a tablet version and a web site supported by paid subscriptions.

Good luck with that. I doubt it will last more than a year.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against digital publishing. Far from it.

Nor am I against the idea of asking readers to pay for online publications. After all, advertising supported online publishing isn’t thriving.

Selling online ads is tricky. It can be expensive. Google Ad Words is not a practical publishing business model. A large number of online ads that come in from robotic sales operations are inappropriate, some are downright sleazy.

Getting readers to stump up for their reading material makes perfectly logical sense. I sometimes pay for online subscriptions myself.

However the sad truth is that not enough people are willing to pay for journalism unless the cost has an obvious and quick return on investment. Hence the success of paywalls for business publications like the National Business Review and the Australian Financial Review.

I can think of many print titles that limp on as digital only publications. In almost every case they are mere shadows of their former selves. They feature less quality journalism than when they were in print and the live on hugely reduced incomes.

What Newsweek sells isn’t special enough for advertisers and isn’t unique enough for readers to part with cash. Newsweek is dead.