Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Friday,
Oct 31st

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

This Week in Jewish Farming: First frost

Ben Harris Most farmers don’t celebrate the death of their crops. But the arrival of the first sub-freezing night was a welcome respite after months of hard labor. ... [Link]

Eight Palestinians reported injured in Jerusalem-area clashes

Cnaan Liphshiz At least eight Palestinians were reportedly wounded in clashes with Israeli police the occurred shortly after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s urged all parties to practice restraint in Jerusale... [Link]

British Jewish school flunks tolerance test

Cnaan Liphshiz A British Jewish school failed government inspections on tolerance sparked by complaints that an emphasis on Islam in some public learning institutions has led to “a culture of intimidation.R... [Link]

Jewish school enrollment up 12 percent, fueled by haredi Orthodox growth

Uriel Heilman Enrollment in Haredi Orthodox schools us up sharply, while non-Orthodox schools are down, and New York and New Jersey have about 75 percent of all day school students nationwide. ... [Link]

Michael Jordan wades into the Obama-Bibi “sh*t” storm (sort of)

Ami Eden Obama’s on the receiving end this time — and from the most iconic athlete on the planet. ... [Link]

Pro-BDS Jewish group boycotts Brussels Jewish film festival

Cnaan Liphshiz A small, left-leaning Jewish organization pulled out of the Brussels Jewish Film Festival because of the involvement in the event of the Israeli and U.S. embassies. ... [Link]

Vietnam’s first Israeli film festival to celebrate 20 years of diplomatic relations

Cnaan Liphshiz A film festival in Vietnam will mark 20 years of diplomatic relations with Israel. ... [Link]

Court strips Dieudonne of damages for cancellation of anti-Semitic show

Cnaan Liphshiz A French appeals court nullified a lower tribunal’s award of damages to the comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala for the cancellation of his show for its anti-Semitic content. ... [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