In a momentous (though not totally unforeseen) development, Newsweek editor Tina Brown announced this morning that the magazine will move to an all-digital format and shutter the print edition just shy of its 80th birthday. In a post on the magazine's website—which Brown folded into TheDailyBeast.com in 2010—she unveiled the new online-only plan for an once-iconic magazine that first began publishing in February of 1933. The magazine will be renamed Newsweek Global, focus on paid subscriptions, and ramp up the importance of e-reader and tablet editions. The last paper issue will be published on December 31.
Brown's post was a modified version of an internal email (posted to the Newsweek Tumblr) that also warns employees about anticipated layoffs and restructuring.
The eventual fate of the Newsweek brand appeared inevitable after the merger with The Daily Beast in 2010, which even included the loss of its URL. The entire concept of weekly news magazines has become outdated, as has the economics of print media in general. (The magazine is expected to lose about $40 million dollars this year, according David Carr of The New York Times. IAC chairman Barry Diller (who owns half the company) even hinted that this might happen the summer, though he quickly backpedaled on the idea that the print side would shut down completely. Brown called it "scaremongering."
However, Brown's strategy seemed to continually push the Newsweek half of Newsweek/Daily Beast to the back burner—when she wasn't cooking up desperate, attention-seeking covers. It was becoming harder and harder to imagine a world in which the magazine might thrive again, but perhaps few expected the end to come soon or so abruptly. Brown writes that she's looking ahead to the "the 80th anniversary of Newsweek next year," but now that day will be more like a funeral.