business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Variety reports on a Bloomberg interview with Barry Diller, chairman of IAC, which currently owns what remains of Newsweek.

As the story notes, "Newsweek was sold in 2010 by the Washington Post Co. to audio mogul Sidney Harman for $1 and assumption of its liabilities. Harman eventually merged it with the Daily Beast Co., owned by IAC. After his death, Harman’s family decided to end additional investment in the publication."

Newsweek ceased publishing a print edition at the end of last year, and now is part of the Daily Beast website.

In the interview, Diller says that he even has doubts about the new combined product, wishes he'd never acquired Newsweek, and thinks that "printing a magazine is a 'fools errand if that magazine is a news weekly'."

I'm noting this interview not because I am surprised by Diller's comments - to be honest, I didn't like Newsweek very much in its final years as a print publication, don't much like it as an online product and, when I get its emails, rarely find something that I want to read or that surprises me. But I thought it as interesting because I saw the piece right after I read Michael's column, above, and saw his comment about "Good Morning, Janice."

And I think that's the real point.

Newsmagazines, by their very nature, serve as a place to bring together news and analysis of important stories ... but there is something about their structure and approach that makes them almost dated. People are performing many of the same tasks as those magazine editors long before they get those magazines, whether online or in print. And so Newsweek ends up seeming redundant.

And so, magazines need to find new structures, new approaches, new relevance. If they don't, the owner will start saying things in public, like owning them is "a mistake."

Comments like that, building on the way the business is evolving, are an Eye-Opener.

And it isn't just the magazine business. (Hint, hint, hint...)
KC's View: