The Washington Post Company said on Wednesday that it was putting Newsweek magazine up for sale, raising questions about the future of the publication and whether the newsweekly format still had a place in today’s fragmented media market.
The move was not entirely unexpected, Newsweek’s editor, Jon Meacham, said.
“In the sense that we are all in an existential crisis, it is not what I would call a stunning decision,” Mr. Meacham said in an interview. “You would have to have been hopelessly Pollyannaish not to have suspected that there were fundamental shifts ahead.”
Mr. Meacham said he did not know whether Newsweek would work as an all-digital publication, or as digital with a print component, but, he said, “I decline to accept that Newsweek in some form does not have a role to play going forward.”
It was unclear who might bid for the magazine. Bloomberg L.P., which just bought BusinessWeek, was not exploring a purchase, a spokeswoman, Judith Czelusniak said. Mr. Meacham said he was considering putting together an investor group to buy the magazine.
Newsweek lost $28.1 million in 2009, compared with a loss of $15.4 million a year earlier. Revenue fell to $165.5 million, from $227.4 million in 2008, as income from advertising and subscriptions eroded.
Just last month, Newsweek ran a cover story that stated "bad teachers" who couldn't improve the test scores of their students need to be held accountable and fired.
Ironic that Newsweek writers Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert were writing the "accountability" story about teachers and schools even as the owners of the magazine - a test prep company - were holding their own accountability moment for the writers, editors and staff of the dying magazine.
But fair's fair - since Newsweek writers and editors think teachers need to be held accountable for the data and scores of their students, then Newsweek writers and editors need to be held accountable for the revenue losses for their magazine.
Going from losing $15.4 million in 2008 to losing $28.1 million in 2009 is not a positive trajectory.
And the publisher of Newsweek says he expects to lose more money in 2010.
Given those numbers, the "accountability folks" at Newsweek clearly need to be held accountable.
The magazine needs to be closed and the staff fired.
Certainly that's how Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert and Jon Meacham would want it if Newsweek were a high school in, say, Central Falls, Rhode Island instead of a news weekly in Manhattan.
So buh-bye, fellows.
See you on the unemployment line.