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The Return of Newsweek to Print… More Cheers for its Rebirth than Jeers of its Demise. A Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Newsweek’s Editor Jim Impoco

March 6, 2014

“I will say I expected some publicity. I didn’t expect it to be so global and so intense. I am really surprised and I think, in a funny way, it’s getting more publicity for coming back than it got for going out of print. I don’t know, I love the fact that people are talking about it — it speaks to the power of the brand.”
…Jim Impoco

newsweekcover Picture 4Picture 5I put my money where my mouth is. I believe so much in this consumer-centric business model that I went ahead and bought a subscription to the Newsweek Premier Subscription deal: all access for $149.99. The all access is the only way you can receive Newsweek by mail; otherwise you have to buy it on the newsstands (which I will also do). There is no print-only subscription. Print reigns supreme.

So why now and why the return to print? Well, to answer my questions I reached out to Jim Impoco, Newsweek’s editor in chief, who is amazed and pleasantly surprised by the amount of publicity the return of Newsweek is receiving.

Read the Mr. Magazine™ conversation with Jim Impoco, Editor of Newsweek, and discover why he thinks the new business model for the ink on paper magazine is certain to work.

But first the sound-bites:

jim impoco On the negativity surrounding the success of the new Newsweek: It’s funny, even Tina Brown tweeted this morning that she believed a small, targeted circulation is perfect for Newsweek. So I don’t know, the people that say it won’t work, maybe it won’t.

On whether digital entities coming to print may be the new trend: It’s definitely a trend but there are several reasons for it. Some are doing it for marketing and vanity reasons and others, like us, are doing it for commercial reasons as well as legacy reasons.

On whether or not he feels the new business model for Newsweek will work:
I think it’s going to work, I’m betting a lot on it.

On the biggest stumbling block the magazine will have to overcome:
I would say the biggest stumbling block is the lead time required for print.

On whether or not Newsweek can be the bridge that links yesterday to today:
Well, that’s not what we’re trying to do anymore. I think that the era where Newsweek is the last word on last week is over.

On his statement that Newsweek would be like a monthly on a weekly basis: That’s exactly right. It just makes perfect sense that you need that kind of sensibility.

On the publicity the return of Newsweek is getting in the media: I will say I expected some publicity. I didn’t expect it to be so global and so intense.

On what keeps him up at night: Lots of things keep me up at night, but it’s like, are you making the right news call?

And now the lightly edited transcript of the Mr. Magazine™ interview with Jim Impoco, Editor of Newsweek.


Samir Husni: Why do you think there are a lot of negative media reports about the possible success of the new Newsweek?

Jim Impoco: I actually don’t think so. I look at Ken Doctor’s report, he is sort of like the Dr. Gloom of print, right, and he himself said there are a couple of cross currents that could make this work. It’s funny, even Tina Brown tweeted this morning that she believed a small, targeted circulation is perfect for Newsweek. So I don’t know, the people that say it won’t work, maybe it won’t.

SH: I’ve read a lot, you’ve been interviewed a lot, and we’re seeing a lot of digital entities crossing that virtual line and coming to print. Do you think this is a trend?

JI: It’s definitely a trend but there are several reasons for it. Some are doing it for marketing and vanity reasons and others, like us, are doing it for commercial reasons as well as legacy reasons. In other words, Politico doesn’t expect to make any money, I would imagine, right now from its quarterly publication. It’s hard to see what some of those entities have — you know some of their financial models are transparent and others aren’t.

SH: What’s your expectation for the new Newsweek and its new business model? When will you feel that this business plan — the $7.99 cover price and $150 subscription — is working? Do you need to hit 50,000, 100,000 or more?

JI: Actually, well under 50,000 makes us hold.

SH: Do you expect it to work?

JI: I think it’s going to work, I’m betting a lot on it. I am confident that it’s going to work.

SH: From an editorial point of view, what do you think is going to be the biggest stumbling block that you have to overcome?

JI: I would say the biggest stumbling block is the lead time required for print. You have to be able to predict what’s going to be topical four days later.

SH: Is there a way Newsweek can be the bridge that links last week to next week?

JI: Well, that’s not what we’re trying to do anymore. I think that the era where Newsweek is the last word on last week is over. We don’t even think in terms of weeks really, we’re just trying to see where we can advance the conversation, create our own weather.

SH: I’m giving a talk in Germany in two weeks for the newspaper industry about how newspapers must become weeklies on a daily basis. I’ve noticed you’ve mentioned that you’re going to be a monthly on a weekly basis…

JI: That’s exactly right. It just makes perfect sense that you need that kind of sensibility. The Week, the magazine, does a perfectly good job of giving you a concise summary of last week’s news and I think what we’re going to try to do is be a very topical monthly that comes out once a week.

SH: What keeps Jim up at night?

JI: Well, you know, when we close this issue it wasn’t entirely clear if Putin was going to send tanks in or not. Print is a tricky business. Lots of things keep me up at night, but it’s like, are you making the right news call?

SH: Were you surprised by the amount of publicity that the return of Newsweek to print is generating?

JI: I will say I expected some publicity. I didn’t expect it to be so global and so intense. I am really surprised and I think, in a funny way, it’s getting more publicity for coming back than it got for going out of print. I don’t know, I love the fact that people are talking about it — it speaks to the power of the brand.

SH: Thank you.

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