Newsweek 'Back From the Dead,' Causes Furor Over Bitcoin Founder's Identity

Newsweek, the weekly magazine with a penchant for controversial covers, reappeared in retail outlets across the country on Friday after more than a year as a subscription-only digital periodical. According to the Daily Beast, the publication's online partner, “a historic title is back from the dead."

As has often happened in the past, the new magazine's cover story has generated a controversy, this time by identifying Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto as the elusive founder of the crypto-currency Bitcoin, causing reporters from many other news outlets to swarm outside his home in Temple City, Calif.


 

However, the 64-year-old man repeatedly declared during an exclusive two-hour interview with the Associated Press that "I got nothing to do with it” and declared that he had never even heard of the digital “money” until his son told him he had been contacted by a Newsweek reporter three weeks ago.

While editor in chief Jim Impoco, a veteran business journalist, said that the reaction to the magazine's return has been "overwhelming," others questioned the wisdom of returning to a print format that very few -- if any -- people were clamoring for.

The magazine stopped producing a print edition of each issue on December 31, 2012, due to what its publishers described as “the challenging economics of print publishing and distribution," or what you and I would refer to as "losing money." Instead, the all-digital publication was rebranded under the title “Newsweek Global.”

The publication, which had been producing hard copies of issues since 1933 until the break 15 months ago, is now under new management: IBT (International Business Times) Media, a small digital publishing company that printed a run of only 70,000 copies to mark Newsweek's return to retail sales.

Under Etienne Uzac, co-founder and CEO of IBT Media, the magazine has a new strategy that emphasizes subscriptions as being just as important as advertising.

That goal may be difficult to achieve since the new version of Newsweek costs a staggering $149.95 for a year and $7.99 per issue. One reason given for the high price of the periodical is that it's printed on thick, glossy paper.

Nevertheless, the instant availability of information via the Internet that contributed to the periodical's downfall remains a serious challenge to the print publication.

On the other hand, the weekly magazine has a long history of drawing attention with covers that have been as surprising as they were controversial.

Part of the periodical's problem has been its obvious love for the Democratic occupant of the White House. After declaring Obama “the First Gay President” when his stance on same-sex marriage "evolved" in May of 2013, Mitt Romney was depicted as a “Candidate With a Serious Wimp Problem.”

After the November 2012 election, Newsweek compared Obama to Napoleon while calling the GOP “old,” “white” and “history,” later promoting the incumbent's inauguration as “the Second Coming."

With Newsweek "back from the dead," we can only speculate who will be targeted on the magazine's future covers. Chris Christie or Hillary Clinton? Donald Trump or Kathleen Sebelius? Only time -- and not the magazine -- will tell.

Randy Hall
Randy Hall