Newsweek will cease publishing on paper next year. The venerable liberal magazine could not compete.
In 1998, a Newsweek editor killed the story of Bill Clinton and an unnamed intern. Matt Drudge blew the whistle online. With that act of defiance, Drudge became the poster child of the digital revolution.
Newsweek capitulated within a few days. It posted the story.
That saved Clinton from obscurity. In 8 years, he did only two memorable things, one with a cigar, and one with perjury. The rest of the time it was rhetoric and bimbo eruptions. He was the Seinfeld in Washington. Seinfeld was a show about nothing. So was Clinton’s presidency, except for Matt Drudge and Monica.
Today, Drudge’s site is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Newsweek is worth zilch.
Drudge is a conservative. Newsweek‘s staff is liberal.
In 1998, establishment journalists dismissed Drudge as an amateur. He was not a real journalist, they said. A lot of them aren’t journalists any longer. The jobs are gone. As of late 2011, the losses were accelerating.
Nearly 1 in 3 newsroom jobs have been eliminated since the number of journalists peaked at 56,900 in 1989, according to an annual survey by the American Society of News Editors. At the end of 2010, only 41,600 scribes were left on the industry’s payrolls.
If only a fifth of the cuts identified by Smith in 2011 were in newsrooms, then barely 41,000 journalists will be left at America’s newspapers at year’s end. With the ASNE reporting that 52,600 journalists were on the job in 2007, then the projected newsroom headcount at the end of this year would be 22% lower than it was in 2007.
In other words, the decline in newsroom employment has been twice as great since 2007 as the 11% drop in over-all industry employment.
Drudge is now the most important journalist in the world, and therefore the most important journalist in history. He understood the power of the new technology in 1998. They didn’t.
It was clear a decade ago that print news media are doomed. But the poor saps who are still employed by print media pretend that the Internet is a fad, that they still have a future. Call it the Kodak mentality.
Liberals bet the farm on print media and network television. Both are dying.
Millions of people go daily to the DrudgeReport.com. They are not going to go to Newsweek‘s digital site. Why should they? What unique selling proposition does Newsweek offer? “We’re liberal!” So what? “We’ve been around since 1933!” So what? “We’re staffed with expensive researchers!” So what?
Here is the famous bottom line: beginning no later than 1998, Newsweek had no functional business model.
You want to know something else? Neither does the New York Times, which ran the story on Newsweek‘s latest fiscal desperation move.