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Newsweek Print Edition Goes Out With a Whimper

Today, Newsweek editor-in-chief Tina Brown and CEO Baba Shetty announced that the magazine will fold its print operation after 80 years. In other news, if you want a video tour around their office you should check out our exclusive Newsweek/Daily Beast edition of “Cubes.”

Now get your big-picture questions ready: Is this the end of print? Is this the end of responsible journalism? Is this the end of Tina Brown’s obnoxious and gimmicky covers? (For the record, that’s no, no and a very hopeful yes.)

Yeah, OK. It’s not like nobody saw this coming. Here are the most important parts of the appropriately self-righteous statement:

“After 80 years in print, the newsmagazine adopts an all-digital format.

We are announcing this morning an important development at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. Newsweek will transition to an all-digital format in early 2013…

Meanwhile, Newsweek will expand its rapidly growing tablet and online presence, as well as its successful global partnerships and events business.

Newsweek Global, as the all-digital publication will be named, will be a single, worldwide edition…

…our business has been increasingly affected by the challenging print advertising environment, while Newsweek’s online and e-reader content has built a rapidly growing audience…By year’s end, tablet users in the United States alone are expected to exceed 70 million, up from 13 million just two years ago…

In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format…

We are transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it. We remain committed to Newsweek and to the journalism that it represents…

Newsweek is produced by a gifted and tireless team of professionals who have been offering brilliant work consistently throughout a tough period of ownership transition and media disruption. Regrettably we anticipate staff reductions…

Exiting print is an extremely difficult moment for all of us who love the romance of print and the unique weekly camaraderie of those hectic hours before the close on Friday night. But as we head for the 80th anniversary of Newsweek next year we must sustain the journalism that gives the magazine its purpose—and embrace the all-digital future.”

You got the point across. Good job. However, Brad Phillips (aka Mr. Media Training) noticed something missing from the statement—something that we think is extremely important.

Notice that Brown and Shetty wrote not one word of gratitude toward their readers–you know, the people who paid real-life currency for their product? The millions in the US and abroad whose readership allowed them to write and publish a magazine for 80 years–and to make some money while doing it? Isn’t that curious?

Phillips takes particular umbrage at this last line:

“Exiting print is an extremely difficult moment for all of us who love the romance of print and the unique weekly camaraderie of those hectic hours before the close on Friday night.”

This reads like an internal memo, not a press release. How much do Newsweek’s readers really care about the struggles and bromances of the editorial team? Our guess is “not a whole hell of a lot.”

We don’t necessarily want to pile on poor, poor Tina Brown, but she makes it all so easy, doesn’t she? She certainly knows how to dish it out. Come to think of it, she’s almost like the Michelle Bachmann of the publishing world…

And yes, that picture still creeps us out.

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