Newsweek's Demise in Print Gets Chinese Attention

When I worked for Newsweek in the Eighties and Nineties I was always surprised by how much stature and respect the magazine received in Europe and Asia, given the fact that it was a) in English and b) had a relatively small circulation.  But it was, of course, read by English-speaking power players (there always seemed to be multiple Rolex and Patek-Philippe ads), and the marketing was excellent: newsstands everywhere seemed to have Newsweek awnings.

In China the demise of the print edition was seen as a major watermark in American publishing.  In several interviews there I tried to explain that there are many other print magazines still doing well--that Newsweek's need to drop the print edition was the result of some business and editorial missteps in addition to the changing publishing environment.  I always expected that Newsweek would have a print edition at least through this decade.  As time went on, it would become increasingly a luxury product for a diminishing audience that more or less collated the best of that week's Website, but it would not vanish quite so quickly.

My Chinese interviewers were genuinely surprised to hear that there are still many print magazines being started in the U.S.  The real lesson of Newsweek print's demise is that there is no longer much margin for error in publishing on paper--whether you're an 80-year-old brandname or a freshly-minted start-up.

Here's one of the interviews from China Radio International:  WMA     MP3