Newsweek Magazine Ends an Era

October 19, 2012

Newsweek CoverNewsweek is closing down it’s print edition at the end of 2012.  As a result of this news, I bought a copy of Newsweek for my archives last night.  In 2003, Newsweek’s worldwide circulation was more than 4 million, including 2.7 million in the U.S; by 2010 it was down to 1.5 million (with newsstand sales declining to just over 40 thousand copies per week).

Newsweek published editions in Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish, Rioplatense SpanishArabic, and Turkish, as well as an English language Newsweek International.

Russian Newsweek, published since 2004, was shut in October 2010.  The Bulletin (an Australian weekly until 2008) incorporated an international news section from Newsweek.  Based in New York City, the magazine has 22 bureaus: nine in the U.S.: New York City, Los Angeles,  Chicago/Detroit, Dallas, Miami, Washington, D.C., Boston and San Francisco, as well as overseas in London, Paris, Berlin, Moscow, JerusalemBaghdad, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, South AsiaCape Town, Mexico City and Buenos Aires.

I come from an era where reading a real newspaper or weekly news magazine (see top US magazines by circulation) was a regular event for most of us.  Sadly, it’s been probably about a year or more since I’ve read a full newspaper from front page to the back cover.  And now, it may actually become a lost “art” of sorts, sooner than one might think.  I believe our newspaper journalists are an endangered species (11,000  journalism jobs lost since 2008).

In fact, I am starting to collect a few newspapers. Just a few, here and there, that are news worthy or interesting to me, like my earlier post about my late 1800 Penny Press Newspaper from France, Newsweek, Time, the election of President Obama, and the death’s of Princess Diana and Micheal Jackson.

Here are some examples of newspapers that closed during 2012: 

The New Orleans Times-Picayune, a fixture in the Big Easy since 1837, will slash its staff and production schedule, going from 7 to 3 days a week beginning this fall. The body count isn’t known yet, but estimates are that at least a third of the staff will be fired. Those who stay are expected to take pay cuts.

The Times-Picayune, which is owned by Newhouse Newspapers, is apparently taking a page from the Ann Arbor News, another Newhouse paper that cut its frequency to twice-weekly more than three years ago.

The Detroit Media Partnership was the first to eliminate daily frequency in late 2008. Many smaller papers have since quietly cu

Newspaper dispenser, Newspaperst money-losing Monday, Tuesday and Saturday editions.

Additionally, The Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register and Huntsville Times will also reduce frequency to three days a week. They’ll become part of a “new digitally focused media company” called the Alabama Media Group.  Read more on Al.com.

According to Newspaper Layoffs  for 2012, there have been more than 1850 layoffs and buyouts have occurred thus far at U.S. newspapers.  Here is a list by the same source of closed print newspapers.

Tracing the decline and death of each newspapers is tough.  But, a report from the FCC.gov in 2010 on page 41 shows a list of about 212 closed newspapers from 2007-2010 [ it also offers some excellent historical insights as well].

Newspapers across the country have experienced severe cutbacks during the past decade, which has undermined their ability to perform their role as the nation’s watchdog.

Ad revenue dropped nearly 48 percent between 2005 and 2010, and with it the industry’s annual spending on reporting and editing capacity dropped by $1.6 billion, from 2006 to 2009, a reduction of more than 25 percent, according to the Pew Research Center’s

Project for Excellence in Journalism and Rick Edmonds of the Poynter Institute. The number of full-time journalists at daily newspapers fell from a peak of about 56,900 in 1989 to 41,600 in 2010, a level not seen since before the Watergate era.

Below is more information about are some of those newspapers which died in 2009.   As you may have noticed, newspapers had a very rough year.  But you may not quite appreciate the magnitude of the collapse, just from 2009 alone. “Today is the end of an era,” said Cynthia Cather Burton, editor of the 104-year-old Clarke Courier.

Just in 2009:

  • 105 newspapers have been shuttered.
  • more than 10,000 newspaper jobs were lost.
  • Print ad sales fell 30% in Q1 ’09.
  • 23 of the top 25 newspapers reported circulation declines between 7% and 20%

Here is a list of the dead Newspapers from 2009:

West Bloomfield Eccentric
Troy Eccentric
Rochester Eccentric
Southfield Eccentric
The Carson Times
Douglas Times
Fallon Star Presss
The Daily Reporter
Dennis Pennysaver
Yarmouth Pennysaver
East Bridgewater Star
West Bridgewater Times
Whitman Times
Hanson Town Crier
Plymouth Bulletin
Algonquin Countryside
Cary-Grove Countryside
Wauconda Courier
Arlington Heights Post
Elk Grove Times
Hoffman Estates Review
Palatine Countryside
Rolling Meadows Review
Schaumburg Review Bloomfield Journal
Windsor Journal
Windsor Locks Journal
Coatesville Ledger
Donegal Ledger
Downingtown Ledger
Doylestown Patriot 
East Hartford Gazette
Elizabethtown Chronicle 
Gazette Advertiser
Germantown Courier
Mount Airy Times Express
Harlem Valley Times
Millbrook Round Table
Voice Ledger
Hyde Park Townsman
The Independent
New Hope Gazette
Northern Star
Oxford Tribune
Parkesburg Post Ledger
Solanco Sun Ledger 
Pawling News Chronicle
Petoskey Citizen-Journal
Putnam County Courier 
Quakertown Free Press
Register Herald
The Town Meeting
American Fork Citizen
Lehi Free Press
Lone Peak Press
Orem Times
Pleasant Grove Review
Baltimore Examiner
The Bethel Beacon
The Brookfield Journal
The Kent Good Times Dispatch
The Litchfield Enquirer
Big Sky Sun
The Bulletin
The City Star
Dakota Journal
The Democrat
East Iowa Herald
Fort Collins Now
Grapevine Sun
Hardee Sun
The Hershey Chronicle
Hill Country View
Iraan News
Jeanerette Enterprise
The Journal-Messenger
LA City Beat
Lake Elmo Leader
Lake Norman Times
Lakota Journal
Los Gatos Weekender
West San Jose Resident
Maricopa Tribune
McCamey News
The Milford Observer
Ming Pao New York
Ming Pao San Francisco
The Newton Record
Oak Cliff Tribune
The Rockingham News
Rocky Mountain News
Stillwater Courier
Vail Sun
Valley Journal
The Weekly Almanac
Wheeling Countryside
Des Plaines Times
Mount Prospect Times

So what are we to do? Where will the local obituary postings go? Newspapers also supplied huge amounts of revenue to the postal system for shipping. Is it also somewhat linked to the decline of the US Post Office as well? It is indeed having a ripple effect, I am sure. But, I digress.

Is you newspaper dead?  What do you do for your news now?  I am particularly interested in the older age groups who may not use social media and the Internet so profusely.

Feel free to tell me about your dead newspaper, provide it’s  name in the comments section, and what you miss most about print news.

The following state of our media, trends and information comes directly from PEW’s  recent 2012 State of the Media Report which also show significant changes in how people get their news.

PEW indicates that 70% of Facebook news consumers get most of their story links from friends and family.

And, only 13% say most links that they follow come from news organizations. On Twitter, however, the mix is more even: 36% say most of the links they follow come from friends and family, 27% say most come from news organizations, and 18% mostly follow links from non-news entities such as think tanks.

By 2015, roughly one out of every five display ad dollars is expected to go to Facebook, according to the same source. So who is still putting advertising in newspapers?   Well here are some more interesting facts.

As many as 100 newspapers are expected in coming months to join the roughly 150 dailies that have already moved to some kind of digital subscription model.

In part, newspapers are making this move after witnessing the success of The New York Times, which now has roughly 390,000 online subscribers.  The move is also driven by steep drops in ad revenue. Newspaper industry revenue — circulation and advertising combined — has shrunk 43% since 2000.

In 2011, newspapers overall lost roughly $10 in print ad revenue for every new $1 gained online. (That suggests no improvement from what a separate PEJ study of 38 papers found regarding 2010, when the print losses to digital gains in the sample were a $7-to-$1 ratio.)

Furthermore, newsrooms continued to shrink as companies, to remain in the black, felt the need for more rounds of cost reductions. The contemporary newsroom has fewer articles to produce after trims in the physical size of paper and reduction of the space devoted to news. But the remaining editors and reporters are also being stretched further by the need to generate content suitable for smartphones and tablets as well as establishing a social media presence.

This is all in addition to putting out the print paper daily and feeding breaking news to websites. In company management, the shift to outsiders with backgrounds in digital, especially at major companies, was striking.

The CEOs of Gannett (Craig Dubow) and the industry’s largest private company, Media News (William Dean Singleton), stepped aside for health reasons.

New York Times chief executive Janet Robinson retired under pressure late in the year. Associated Press president and chief executive Tom Curley announced early in 2012 that he would be retiring, too. During the course of the year, the top editor’s job turned over at The New York Times, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times and a host of metros.

Newspapers began changing hands again in late 2011. The trend of private equity owners gaining control through bankruptcy proceedings continues to grow and they tend to take an aggressive approach to digital transition. The most high-profile example is John Paton, the chief executive backed by Alden Global Capital, who is pursuing a “digital-first” strategy at the Journal Register and MediaNews Group papers.The biggest of the private equity takeovers will come when Tribune Company bankruptcy proceedings, now in their fourth year, conclude.

Probably the biggest transaction in 2011 was the $143 million sale of The New York Times’ 16-paper region group to Halifax Media, a company formed two years ago to buy The Daytona Beach News-Journal. The Times had assembled the papers and run them at high profit margins in the 1970s and 1980s to balance out business ups and downs at its flagship paper. Lately, the regional group was shedding revenue faster than The New York Times itself, so the company chose to sell the papers and invest the proceeds in digital development.

Important footnotes to read more about this overall topic.

  1. comScore. “Digital Omnivores: How Tablets, Smartphones and Connected Devices Are Changing U.S. Digital Media Consumption Habits.” Subscriber-access only at www.comscore.com. October 2011.
  2. eMarketer. “Facebook’s US User Growth Slows but Twitter Sees Double-Digit Gains.” March 5, 2012.
  3. Olmstead, Kenny; Mitchell, Amy, and Rosenstiel, Tom. “Navigating News Online: Where People Go, How They Get There and What Lures Them Away.” Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. May 9, 2011.
  4. Search Engine Use 2012.” Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. March 9, 2012.
  5. The Facebook Fascination on Social Media.” Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Feb. 2, 2012.

I for one, will miss print news because three generations in my family have been associated with news and journalism in one way or another. First, with my grandmother, Edith Faulstich who was a published philatelic journalist,  my father wrote for his school newspaper, did editing and some technical writing. And, I have written and published news locally and nationally.

Thanks for reading!

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