Newsweek Must Preserve Brand Integrity as it Kills Off Print Edition

Newsweek plans to end its print publication after 80 years of publishing, opting to go all-digital starting in 2013 due to the challenging economics of print publishing and distribution. 

While the news is not a shockBarry Diller, the head of the company that owns Newsweek, announced in July that the publication was examining its future as a weekly print magazine, according to NBC—the move itself will require nimble work by Newsweek to preserve its reputation and the value of the Newsweek brand.

In an Oct. 18 announcement on The Daily Beast, a sister site of Newsweek, a joint statement from editor-in-chief Tina Brown and CEO Baba Shetty said that "business has been increasingly affected by the challenging print advertising environment, while Newsweek’s online and e-reader content has built a rapidly growing audience through the Apple, Kindle, Zinio and Nook stores, as well as on The Daily Beast." 

So, just as the presidential candidates must bridge from one topic to another in their debates, Newsweek must bridge from its slumped advertising sales and expected reductions among its editorial and business staff to the quality of its journalism and its embrace of an all-digital future. 

To help do that, the statement said Newsweek Global, as the all-digital publication will be named, is seeking to take advantage of the swift growth in the use of tablets, online and e-readers.

"This decision is not about the quality of the brand or the journalism—that is as powerful as ever, " the statement added. "Tablet-use has grown rapidly among our readers and with it the opportunity to sustain editorial excellence through swift, easy digital distribution...." the statement said. 

In the coming months, Newsweek Global must stress that this is not a termination but a transition. The question is, will its core readership that has stuck with Newsweek for years embrace the change?

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg