When IBT Media purchased Newsweek from Barry Diller’s IAC in 2013, the print version was dead and buried. Things were so bad that Diller even bluntly stated “I wish I had not bought Newsweek. It was a mistake.”
Despite the bleak outlook, IBT Media was undeterred. The company relaunched Newsweek in March of that year, with a smaller circulation, a tighter focus and a higher cover price. Its one-year anniversary is this Saturday, March 14. We can’t think a more fitting cover.
At first, things didn’t go as planned. Zombie Newsweek’s debut issue, featuring a cover story on the man who (allegedly) founded Bitcoin, was widely criticized. Jim Impoco, Newsweek’s editor-in-chief, saw the positive and the negative.
“It helped in that it was a big, big story that got lots of attention,” Impoco told FishbowlNY. “It hurt because it became a social media punchline. Our view of the story hasn’t changed.”
Newsweek’s strategy of sticking to its guns paid off. Literally. Impoco told The New York Post that Newsweek is profitable and expects to add roughly 50 additional staffers by next year.
Give IBT Media credit for its stubborness, but also for understanding what, exactly, the new Newsweek is. “We’re not pretending to be a newspaper,” explained Impoco. “We’ve got a website for that. The print magazine is more of a premium product now, focusing on investigative journalism.”
As for the future, Impoco remains optimistic. He said that the digital age led to an “overcorrection,” and that there are plenty of people who love both the Internet and holding a magazine — perhaps, like Newsweek — in their hands.
“Reading a print magazine does not make you an Internet denier,” said Impoco. “Print is a good user experience, and it’s not backlit so it won’t keep you up at night (we have apps for that). Besides, we did listicles before Ben Smith was born.”