The Lookout

Will Newsweek ditch print and go digital-only?

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(Newsweek)

Newsweek may not be a newsweekly too much longer.

"The transition to online from hard print will take place," Barry Diller, chairman of Newsweek owner IAC, said during a conference call to discuss the company's quarterly results. "We're examining all of our options."

The comments come just days after the family of Sidney Harman, the late audio equipment magnate who bought Newsweek for $1--plus the assumption of magazine's estimated $40 million-plus debt before partnering with Diller and Daily Beast founder Tina Brown--said it would no longer invest in the 79-year-old magazine, leaving Diller and the Beast in full control.

Harman died in 2011 at 92, leaving his ownership stake to his estate. IAC, which also owns Match.com, Ask.com and CollegeHumor.com, generates most of its revenue from digital properties.

According to Bloomberg.com, Newsweek is "projected to lose as much as $22 million this year." According to the Publishers Information Bureau, ad pages for Newsweek fell 16.8 percent in 2011--a dismal year following an even worse 2010, when ad pages plummeted nearly 20 percent.

Diller, though, stopped short of announcing plans to kill off the print edition entirely during the conference call. "I'm not saying it will happen totally," he said.

But "if Newsweek ceases to exist as a print magazine sometime in the next year," Jeff Bercovici wrote on Forbes.com, "don't say Barry Diller didn't warn you."

If Newsweek does fold its print edition, it won't be the first weekly magazine to do so. In 2010, U.S. News & World Report announced the shuttering of its print magazine--with the exception of special issues like its Best Colleges guide--and shifted its focus almost entirely to the Web.

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