The Incredible Shrinking Newsweek

Newsweek logo shrinkingNewsweek magazine is undergoing massive restructuring, buying out the contracts of over 100 employees and offering to buy out many more including its two liberal opinion-mongers Jonathan Alter and Howard Fineman:

The staff of Newsweek will shrink dramatically, after 111 staffers on its news and business sides accepted a buyout last week. [...] More staffers than expected accepted the offer, so at least some their jobs are likely to be filled by new hires. But dozens of positions will be eliminated permanently. [...]

Other longtime senior editors who accepted the buyout include Nancy Cooper, George Hackett and Alexis Gelber. Senior Editor Jerry Adler is reportedly still considering the offer.

Top political writers Jonathan Alter and Howard Fineman were also offered the buyout but declined it, and will continue in their current positions. Fineman told Radar, "my sense was that they wanted me to stay, and I am delighted to be doing so... I'm a lucky—and happy—guy." Alter said, "Because I've turned 50 I was just barely eligible under the terms, but I'm not taking it."

More is sure to follow. I expect that within five years, Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News will purchase one of its competitors as the weekly news market continues to shrink. Frankly, I'm wondering which of the newsmagazines is going to go all-digital first. The idea of a weekly magazine that attempts to cover the news just doesn't work aside from big "think pieces."

Newsweek may be taking a step in that direction when it launched The Ruckus, a blog aggregating site that takes posts from popular liberal and conservative blogs and sticks them together in one place. The site has some problems, though, because of the fact that so little of a post is readable from its front page, you don't really get a sense of what any story is about.

The unfortunate thing that a lot of media people have trouble recognizing is that people actually like new voices within the new media. Simply repackaging existing "old media" content is a strategy doomed to fail. The cure for what ails old media brands in the new media age is to create new ones, not resuscitate them.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013