The death of Newsweek

The U.S. is losing something as the publication disintegrates—a magazine with guts and heart.

Newsweek is in the news—raided by the police last month as part of a probe into the owners’ shady finances, then subjected to a crude purge on Monday, when the owners sacked the editors and reporters who tried to write about the scandal.

This was the cinematic coda to a decade of collapse. Whatever its shortcomings, the country lost something with the demise of classic Newsweek—a magazine with guts and heart.

After years of survivable financial struggles, the magazine—founded in 1933—cratered with the economy in 2008, was sold by the Washington Post Co. for $1 in 2010, and sold again in 2013 by Barry Diller’s IAC to a shadowy company called International Business Times. In the last five years, Newsweek produced some strong journalism and plenty of clickbait before becoming a painful embarrassment to anyone who toiled there in its golden age.

Matt Cooper, who also worked at the old Newsweek, resigned from the latest incarnation Monday with a piece saying that in three decades in journalism, “I’ve never seen more reckless leadership.” Ed Kosner, editor in the late 1970s, wrote on Facebook Tuesday, “Time to begin always making the distinction between our Real Newsweek of sainted memory and this shameful Fake Newsweek.”

The paid global circulation of today’s print edition of Newsweek is said to be 100,000; well into the internet age, ours was at least 30 times larger—3 million paid subscribers and 15 million readers.

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