Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Friday,
May 27th

Why Newsweek died an unnatural death

E-mail Print PDF

You could wake up half the populace in the United States in the middle of the night and ask them why the 79-year-old, once indispensable Newsweek will no longer appear in print. You would receive the conventional wisdom, offered with offhand, matter-of-fact certitude. The Wall Street Journal put that conventional wisdom this way:

“ . . . signpost of how traditional print news outlets are being battered . . . ”

“ . . . Internet accelerated a downward spiral . . . ”

“ . . . challenging economics to print publishing and distribution   . . . ”

All true. And all rather ironic, offered as they are by perhaps the most economically successful print news outlet in existence. “One of,” we say, for there are others — even other newsweeklies — that are thriving, such as the Economist. What happened to Newsweek was no more inevitable than a death notice for the Economist or the Wall Street Journal.

Newsweek’s death was unnatural, not inevitable. Newsweek made two critical mistakes: First, it made a counterintuitive, anti-economic, herd-mentality decision to give away a significant portion of its content online; and then, when readers discovered that they did not need to pay for what they could get for free, Newsweek decided to degrade its content to unimaginably and embarrassingly low levels.

Neither decision was wise. Neither was required by circumstance, nor were these decisions in keeping with the grand journalistic tradition by which Newsweek was known for decades. The idea that a business could be sustained on the basis of paying a network of skilled reporters, then giving away what they researched and wrote, illustrates the addictive, mentally eviscerating allure of the new electronic media. (It also illustrated the fallacy that at the beginning of online media that readers would no longer pay for quality reporting.)

And when the grand electronic giveaway didn’t keep Newsweek print readers, Newsweek decided that nobody wanted quality news reporting anymore, just scandal and controversy. Thus Newsweek trans-mogrified itself from a newsweekly into a tasteless form of a tabloid journalism. Surprise, surprise. Few wanted that, and now Newsweek has folded.

Will Newsweek survive, let alone thrive, online? Not if the same people making its strategic decisions are left in place.

Electronic publishing has drastically widened the availability of news, rendered its quality decidedly mixed, and not replaced the quality research and  investigative reporting that only print media are structured to provide. We are confident that people will gravitate to quality in sufficient numbers to sustain print media long into the future — if these media, unlike Newsweek, stick to high standards.

Copyright © 2012 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Last Updated ( Thursday, 25 October 2012 02:12 )  

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Drake has a crush on Sarah Silverman

Gabe Friedman News flash: The most famous Jewish rapper on earth has a crush on one of the most famous Jewish comedians on earth. As explained on “Late Night with Seth Myers” Thursday night, Drake recently post... [Link]

Netanyahu’s government may be near collapse, report says

Julie Wiener (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government may be on the verge of collapse according to Israel’s Channel 10. In a report Friday night, the TV station quoted unnamed “party leaders... [Link]

Arab states have reportedly hand-picked Palestinian leader to succeed Abbas

Julie Wiener (JTA) — The United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan are reportedly planning to have former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan replace Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Citing unnamed senior ... [Link]

Captain America is a secret Nazi, and people are going crazy about it

Andrew Tobin The new Captain America comic book includes an epic reveal, and some people are not happy about it. When fans ran out to grab Marvel Comics’ “Captain America: Steve Rogers #1” on its relea... [Link]

US health firms, Haifa hospital team up to ‘incubate’ digital medicine start-ups

Andrew Silow-Carroll (JTA) — IBM Watson Health and Medtronics are teaming up with an Israeli hospital to create a high-tech “incubator” to encourage innovations in digital medicine. Rambam Health Care Campus in... [Link]

Steven Spielberg, in Harvard commencement speech, says anti-Semitism on the rise

Julie Wiener (JTA) — Speaking at Harvard University’s commencement, filmmaker Steven Spielberg said he was “wrong” as a kid to think anti-Semitism “was fading.” Spielberg, whose 99-year-old father Arno... [Link]

Transgender Israeli Arab wins historic Tel Aviv pageant

Julie Wiener (JTA) — A Christian Arab-Israeli ballet dancer won Israel’s first-ever transgender beauty pageant. Ta’alin Abu Hanna, 21, was named “Miss Trans Israel” in Tel Aviv Friday, the Jerusalem Post... [Link]

NY Times removes quotation marks from Israeli ‘occupation’

Gabe Friedman (JTA) — The New York Times removed quotation marks originally used around “occupation” in one of its news stories. The word appears in the phrase “Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com