Star Newsweek staffers are quitting the 77-year-old magazine left and right these days, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the precarious position they’ve been in ever since The Washington Post Co. announced back in May that it was putting the money-bleeding magazine on the block.
On the one hand, the exodus underscores the uncertainty that’s been coursing through the newsroom lately. New owner Sidney Harman is in charge now, and he has said he wants to at least start breaking even, which means cutting costs. (Layoffs are expected to come down later this week.) Beyond that, there’s the question of who will succeed outgoing editor-in-chief Jon Meacham, and what sort of magazine Newsweek will become under that person.
But the departures also hint at an ever-growing anxiety about what the future holds for print media in general.
More and more old media journalists are starting to map out digital futures, and the publications where they are plotting their courses are embracing the credibility, gravitas and, above all, readers, that their bylines can bring.
Indeed, of the roughly two dozen Newsweek journalists who have run for the door in recent months, some of the most high-profile names have joined news outlets without dead-tree versions.
30-year vet Howard Fineman announced today he is headed to The Huffington Post. Economics editor Dan Gross is headed to Yahoo Finance. Longtime investigative reporter Mark Hosenball is joining former Newsweek worldwide special editions editor Arlese Getz at Reuters. Michael Isikoff, the magazine’s other longtime investigative ace, took a job at NBC News. Marc Coatney (granted, he was a digital staffer in the first place) is now working for Tumblr.
Fineman, who is 61, spoke with Media Matters’ Joe Strupp today about his decision to leave a magazine he’s worked at for three decades and take a job where he is “more than twice as old as most” staffers. His predictions for Newsweek’s future say it all:
“My guess is that there will be several years of a fond embrace of the traditional magazine. But that stuff is going because the economics are too difficult. He also has to build a great website.”
Asked how long the print edition will last, Fineman said: “I am saying five years for now, at the outset.”
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