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August 2, 2010 1:29 PM   Subscribe

WaPo sells Newsweek to Harman for $1.
posted by Rory Marinich (52 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
And Harman got ripped off.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:32 PM on August 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


$1 + $70M in debt.
posted by octothorpe at 1:34 PM on August 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Proof that the future of newspapers is micropayment.
posted by _Lasar at 1:34 PM on August 2, 2010 [41 favorites]


Here is a photo of the dollar bill used for the acquisition.
posted by quadog at 1:35 PM on August 2, 2010


How will this impact me reading The Economist?
posted by djgh at 1:38 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sidney Harman is one of the good guys, and it's not like Newsweek is carrying a horrible journalistic reputation along with it as baggage. I'm certain he'll do something useful and important with this publication, instead of letting it fold.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:38 PM on August 2, 2010


So it's cheaper to buy the entire magazine than a single issue?
posted by brundlefly at 1:39 PM on August 2, 2010 [26 favorites]


$1 + $70M in debt.

No problem. Congress will just have the taxpayer's cover that. In fact all failing newspaper companies who failed to make the jump to the new paradigm will be covered in a new bill.

They're calling it TRAP, I think. Several congresspersons have suspended their campaigns.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 1:40 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would have paid a dollar-fifty.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:41 PM on August 2, 2010


replace "newspaper" with "print"... aw hell, it was crappy snark anyhow.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 1:41 PM on August 2, 2010


> So it's cheaper to buy the entire magazine than a single issue?

Only if you allow Newsweek to add $70,000,000 to your home mortgage when you buy a copy with a credit card.
posted by ardgedee at 1:41 PM on August 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


You can continue to read the Economist and learn weekly all about countries you never heard even existed and then pay your nice bill for the paper (as they call it)...It is well done but then you need not give it up. The Economist like the WSJ seems to be doing ok with pay walls and subscriptions, going against what we have been told is the death of newsprint.
posted by Postroad at 1:44 PM on August 2, 2010


Dammit Sidney Harman, don't give that Washington Post no tree-fiddy!
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:48 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The story also announces speculation that editor Jon Meacham has offered his resignation.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:48 PM on August 2, 2010


It appears the symmetry of my dentist's fanned-like-a-deck-of-cards magazine display is safe for now.
posted by xod at 1:49 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Economist like the WSJ seems to be doing ok with pay walls and subscriptions, going against what we have been told is the death of newsprint.

The major differences are that they do their own reporting and their non-editorial content is actionable, i.e. those in positions of power use and are influenced by the factual and timely quality of the reporting in the Economist and (probably to a greater extent) the WSJ to make significant political and economic decisions — among other sources. People will pay for actionable, reliable information.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:51 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ugh. I let my ebay bid expire at 90 cents!
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:51 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's a steal. I hear that Newsweek is putting out an iPhone app that tells you What's In and What's Out. It's going to be a big hit.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:53 PM on August 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


brundlefly: So it's cheaper to buy the entire magazine than a single issue?

Actually, for some reason, I've been getting Newsweek as a free gift based on something I signed up for (NPR, maybe?), and I had no idea why, just starting showing up in my mailbox. As a magazine I don't pay for, I've enjoyed it in a "previously had no idea how the mainstream media is really covering anything lately" way.

But now I'm disappointed that I didn't get the whole company along with my tote bag.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:56 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Economist like the WSJ seems to be doing ok with pay walls and subscriptions, going against what we have been told is the death of newsprint.
posted by Postroad at 4:44 PM on August 2


No one is saying that newsprint is dead, they are saying mass media newspapers are dead. The Economist and the WSJ were never, and currently are not, mass market papers. Compare the circulation numbers of the WSJ in the 80's to the Times or the Post or USA Today. The WSJ didn't even have pictures until a few years ago.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:57 PM on August 2, 2010


As someone who once worked for them: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I am genuinely saddened by this but at the same time, it couldn't have happened to a more competent bunch of people.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:59 PM on August 2, 2010


Maybe they can sell T Shirts.
posted by Artw at 1:59 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meacham’s salary as editor was $800,000 ...

Would that an unusually high salary or on par with editor of a weekly news mag?
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 2:10 PM on August 2, 2010


Ugh, what the above says in English: Is $800,000 a year a high salary for Meacham's position?
posted by Back to you, Jim. at 2:12 PM on August 2, 2010


Meacham’s salary as editor was $800,000

I've edited people's school papers before and didn't get anywhere near that amount.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:15 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


the audio pioneer was willing to keep 250 of the 325 Newsweek employees on staff

Damn. That's a lot of journalism casualties.

I will now go and cry over my class of 2009 Print Journalism BA.
posted by Put the kettle on at 2:17 PM on August 2, 2010


Huh, I guess they outbid Arianna Huffington.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:22 PM on August 2, 2010


$70 million in debt? Meh. He keeps on paying the debt off through cash flow as long as he can. If he makes it great; otherwise he simply declares bankruptcy, says he gave it a great shot and it is a tragedy to lose another print publication.

The only outlay this guy is risking of his own money is the $1. If he has a high cost of debt, say 10%, it will cost him $7 million a year to service it. He lays off 75 folks at $100k per and there you go. he pays the debt with 75 people's jobs and he lays out a buck while saying how he saved over 200 jobs.

This sale was about WaPo feeling good about themselves when they dumped another property and cut a lot more jobs.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:23 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


WSJ.com is $155 a year, which is insanely expensive. They will drop the cost to $99 a year but only if you subscribe to the dead-tree version as well. How stupid is that?

WSJ has a built-in subscriber base who love its slant and its focus. An IPSOS/PHD poll late last year had data that 55% of newspaper readers would never follow a news publication behind a paywall. I guess the publications that are considering going behind paywalls figure that the numbers of those who stick with the publication once it goes behind the wall are favorable enough to go forward with the paywall. About the only publication I can envision following if it goes that route is the NYT, and even that reluctantly. The Times of London went behind a complete paywall a couple of months ago. I miss it, but not enough to pay to go behind the wall.
posted by blucevalo at 2:23 PM on August 2, 2010


Bids for Newsweek were first due in June. WaPo rejected many of the offers before barely taking a glance. For example, it did not seriously consider the bid from the right-leaning Newsmax Media— it was deemed too ideological, and WaPo hoped to keep Newsweek’s liberal establishmentarian approach intact.

Do the Chinese know about this? Better yet, does Rev. Moon know about this? The Washington Times just took a big hit and if there's some wiggle-room that goes with that $70M debt he'd sure as hell like to have more information.

Does this Sidney Harman also prop up failing right-wind nespapers owned by foreign nationals?
posted by vhsiv at 2:25 PM on August 2, 2010


Meacham always kind of annoyed me at Newsweek, and I have generally warm feelings towards it as it was one of the first "real" magazines I read regularly growing up.

I hope the change in ownership will do it some good, but I kind of have my doubts.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:27 PM on August 2, 2010


So I'm the only one? Sidney Harman
posted by DU at 2:28 PM on August 2, 2010


right-wind replace w/ 'wing'

It was a Freudian slip, it must have been.
posted by vhsiv at 2:33 PM on August 2, 2010


I wonder if they would have taken $10, and no-liabilities offer from me?
posted by hal_c_on at 2:35 PM on August 2, 2010


Newsweek Editor-in-Chief Jon Meacham Reportedly Out, Newsweek-C.I.A. Conspiracy Theory Reportedly In

Politico: Meacham Out
posted by zarq at 2:48 PM on August 2, 2010


My mother used to buy me a Newsweek subscription along with her own every year. It was originally a birthday present, but the rates were so low that buying one and getting one for next to nothing was viable for a long time. My husband used to get mildly frothy every six or eight weeks when they'd put on another Jesus cover, but it made decent bathroom reading for a long time. Last year, when they changed the format to reflect "conventional Washington wisdom", I finally told her I wasn't reading it at all and she shouldn't bother to renew the subscription.

Sadly, I don't see this sale changing anything in a way that would make me resubscribe. There's very little a news weekly can give me that I can't get better on the internet for free now, and that's the real problem for something like Newsweek. (In-depth stories are a different matter, but Newsweek gave those up years ago.)
posted by immlass at 2:48 PM on August 2, 2010


if Harman's beliefs are true to what I gathered from skimming his Wikipedia entry, and he puts them into action editorially, then cooool
posted by jtron at 2:51 PM on August 2, 2010


But I just started following them on Facebook!
posted by benzenedream at 3:04 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just dropped by to say that although I skim The Economist's editorial pages, and avoid the WSJ's like the plague to maintain my peace of mind, they are both two of the best news sources I see. Each actually has intelligent reporters in place, and run well researched, accurate stories.
posted by bearwife at 3:07 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, it was a tough decision at the impulse item part of the checkout lane, but I only had the buck and I had to choose between an internationally known magazine with almost eighty years of history, or the Snickers bar.

Look, I was hungry...
posted by quin at 3:36 PM on August 2, 2010


WSJ.com is $155 a year, which is insanely expensive.

WSJ is a trade paper - and an extremely useful and reliable one - with an unfortunately ugly editorial slant. But if you're in the industry that it caters to, and $155 yearly is non-negligible, you're not very good at that particular industry.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:12 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I wish I could've bid on this. I can hire people to reduce operations costs enough to at least attempt to pay off the liabilities, and even if it doesn't work I'm probably guaranteed a cushy job elsewhere after a few years.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:15 PM on August 2, 2010


I've been getting Newsweek for some years as a gift from my parents, but I suspect they get it through their support of one of the public broadcasting services where they live, so I don't know if they're really paying for it or not.

I liked the new format when it first emerged, but lately every issue just seems to annoy me if I read it, and annoy me if I leave it unread because it's dead trees cluttering up my house.

I wonder if I'd really miss it if I tell them not to bother renewing it this year. It's a shame I feel that way. I used to value magazines like Time and Newsweek, but as they've dumbed down and changed formats repeatedly, they've become less and less interesting. Most of what I read in them, I've read similar coverage through online sources by the time the physical copy arrives at my house.

Maybe the new owner can salvage something, but based on the downward slope of the graph of how good a magazine they are I carry in my mind, I doubt it.
posted by hippybear at 4:27 PM on August 2, 2010


Hippybear--exactly. The only thing that could help them is to get smarter. And then what? They abandon their brand as the Readers Digest of the news and politics world (in all fairness, that's more The Week's terriroty) and try and compete with The Atlantic, Harpers, The New Yorker, The Economist, etc?

Time seems like it still has more of a unique niche (and I had no idea until I just looked that Life was still being published separately--is it distributed exclusively to waiting rooms?)

How is USN&WR doing? Is anything but various Top Whatever in the US rankings issues keeping them afloat?
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:44 PM on August 2, 2010


It could be worse. Canada's national newsmagazine Maclean's, which features writers like Mark Steyn and occasionally Ezra Levant, recently ran a special "royal visit" issue with a ten-page photospread of the Queen's visit to Canada. It's as though you have people from Hello! magazine and the Monarchist League telling you what to think on a weekly basis.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:06 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


How is USN&WR doing? Is anything but various Top Whatever in the US rankings issues keeping them afloat?

Not well. They've been struggling for several years, and were outpaced in sales by Newsweek and Time a while back, although they still have a reported circulation just over 1.1 million.

In 2008 they cut back from bimonthly to monthly print editions, and then went almost entirely digital. About that time they lost most of their heavy hitters to Time, Newsweek, Politico, etc. Their print edition is now pretty much devoid of actual news content -- anything of substance appears on their site, and is linked by their Twitter account to make sure they reach the maximum number of readers.
posted by zarq at 5:08 PM on August 2, 2010


Also, their circulation figures have halved in the last 2.5 years.
posted by zarq at 5:11 PM on August 2, 2010


Most of what I read in them, I've read similar coverage through online sources by the time the physical copy arrives at my house.

Ironically, I was catching bits of NBC Evening News tonight and I swear that I read about each and every one of their ledes here on Metafilter before it materialized on television at 7:00 PM EST.

Someone inform Haughey that someone at the Networks is making $$$ off of Metafilter!!
posted by vhsiv at 5:43 PM on August 2, 2010


Why all the anti-Newsweek snark? They get in-depth on a couple of topics and do a page on a bunch of others. 20 minutes a week and you have a damn broad picture of what is going on in the "news" world.

They will drop the cost to $99 a year but only if you subscribe to the dead-tree version as well. How stupid is that?

Stupid like a fox. Unless I am missing something, they sell ads in the newspaper. The more subscribers, the more they get to charge for the ads. Just like a right-wing large-print-book-of-the-week, they flood the marketplace with copies to increase the eyeball to message ratio.
posted by gjc at 7:26 PM on August 2, 2010


Great, a major source of national journalism owned by the husband of the second richest member of the House of Representatives, Jane Harman(D-California)!
posted by TSOL at 9:16 PM on August 2, 2010


and to think they sell it on the newsstand for 4.95$
posted by pyramid termite at 10:26 PM on August 2, 2010


Why the anti-Newsweek snark? Seriously?

I was gifted a one year Newsweek subscription after donating to NPR. Twice in that year, Jesus made the cover. Jesus. I can't fathom any way in which Jesus is news, let alone cover-worthy news. At least with People you know your reading garbage.
posted by chairface at 1:59 PM on August 3, 2010


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