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Yesterday, many news outlets reported that Newsweek owner Barry Diller had said or implied that Newsweek might kill its print edition this fall and go all digital.This news, not surprisingly, apparently sent the Newsweek newsroom into a panic.
And it prompted Newsweek’s legendary editor, Tina Brown, to take time out of a trip to Aspen to write a note to the whole staff dismissing these reports as “Scaremongering” and saying that Barry Diller’s remarks had been completely misunderstood and taken out of context.
Specifically, here’s what Brown said Diller said:
He made the uncontroversial, industry-wide observation that print is moving in the direction of digital.
And perhaps that’s what Diller actually meant.
But upon reading a transcript of what Diller said, it’s not surprising that his remarks were interpreted the way they were.
While answering a question about Newsweek, Diller said that Tina Brown and her staff had done an excellent job and that the brand was very good. Then he went on to describe “the problem”:
What is the problem?
The problem is in manufacturing, producing a weekly news magazine, and that has to be solved.
If everybody is going to face the same problem rather than I think luxury brands over a period of time. Because advertising in this category is entirely elective. And the transition will happen, I believe. I’m not saying it will happen totally, but the transition to online from hard print will take place.
We’re examining all our options. Our plan is that by September or October and certainly firmly planned in place for next year is going to be different than it is this year, can’t tell you in what ways it will be different, but it will be different.
So, no, Barry Diller did not say that Newsweek was planning to kill its print edition this fall.
But he did say that “manufacturing, producing a weekly news magazine” is a problem.
And he said that he thought that the transition to digital from print will happen.
And he said that Newsweek will have a firm new plan for next year in place by September–and that that plan will be “different” than this year’s plan.
So, although Tina Brown entitled her note to her staff “Scaremongering,” you can see why many folks who work on the print publication read Mr. Diller’s remarks might be scared.
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