The Reading Room

Newsweek – the second act

F. Scott Fitzgerald may have said there are no second acts in American lives, but he wasn’t around to see American media scion Newsweek’s print resurrection last year.

The most esteemed of American news magazine’s history had been a turbulent one, but when Tina Brown announced the New Year’s Eve issue in 2012 would be the print finale, no-one doubted it made business sense.

Shrinkage, revamps and declining circulation from 2007 onwards left media observers convinced that while it was the second biggest news mag in the States, doggedly trailing behind TIME pretty much since its birth in 1933, it was due a digital-only 21st century future. This was particularly the case in light of the magazine’s sale to audio pioneer Sidney Harman in 2010, for $1 in exchange for assuming the magazine’s financial liabilities.

The publication had become embroiled in a series of controversies in the decade or so before its print version disappeared from American newsstands, from Monika Lewinsky to Guantánamo Bay and Iraq war planning to allegations of bias and sexism.

IAC/InterActiveCorp Chairman and Founder Barry Diller said in 2013 that he “wished he hadn’t bought” Newsweek because his company had lost money on the magazine and called the purchase a “mistake” and a “fool’s errand.”

No such misgivings held back IBT Media, who the same year acquired Newsweek from IAC, the deal including the Newsweek brand and its online publication. In March 2014, IBT Media relaunched a print edition of Newsweek, returning the publication to profitability by October that year.

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