Looks like Newsweek has an idea…


Newsweek cover, May 31, 1993

File this under, “maybe there is a chance for traditional media.” Check out “Reinventing Newsweek,” from the magazine issue dated May 18, 2009. It’s a fantastic piece from Kathleen Deveny, Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek.

A few snipets if you don’t have time for the whole thing. First, on philosophy:

We’ll aim to be provocative, but not partisan…because while there is no shortage of information out there, we believe there is a scarcity of insight.

And now, the practicality of survival:

For decades, NEWSWEEK has succeeded because advertisers wanted to reach our vast audience. That strategy is no longer working. Advertisers are seeking more targeted demographic groups. We will drop our guaranteed circulation from 2.6 million to 1.5 million by next January. We will focus on a smaller, more devoted, slightly more affluent audience. Over time, we will increase subscription prices. Right now, we’re charging about 47 cents an issue for a product created by hundreds of people around the world, some of whom have risked their lives in places like Baghdad. Good journalism is expensive to produce, and we need to make our business profitable in order to continue producing it. “Repairing NEWSWEEK the business is more than an intellectual challenge,” says Ascheim. “As corny as it sounds, I really believe that our republic will not thrive without healthy, self-sufficient journalism.”

Newsweek.com, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2008, will also debut a new look on May 15. The redesigned home page will be easy to navigate and introduce new features, such as an interactive version of CONVENTIONAL WISDOM. The site already has 6.8 million unique monthly visitors, according to Nielsen, which means more people read NEWSWEEK stories online than in print. We’d like to increase that number significantly, while keeping users on the site longer. We’ll be offering a mix of our own content, aggregated content and content generated by our users. If we were to do a magazine piece on nukes in Iran, for example, we would post it along with links to the best stories we can find at other Web sites—including our direct competitors’—while encouraging our readers to ask questions and comment via Twitter.

The bold emphasis above is mine. Could it be that Newsweek is actually willing to foster the conversation and let participatory media happen on its watch? That would be the step in the right direction – give the conversation the ability to enjoy the access it has always had.

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