Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine founded in 1933. Its print edition is available in English in the United States, Pakistan, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. It is also available in Japan, Poland, and Korea and in all Spanish speaking countries. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence. It is published in four English language editions and 12 global editions written in the language of the circulation region.
News-Week was launched in 1933 by Thomas J.C. Martyn, a former foreign-news editor for Time. He obtained financial backing from a group of U.S. stockholders “which included Ward Cheney of the Cheney silk family, John Hay Whitney, and Paul Mellon, son of Andrew Mellon”. Paul Mellon’s ownership in Newsweek apparently represented “the first attempt of the Mellon family to function journalistically on a national scale.” The group of original owners invested around $2.5 million. The first issue of the magazine was dated 17 February 1933.
In 1937 Malcolm Muir took over as president and editor-in-chief. He changed the name to Newsweek, emphasized interpretive stories, introduced signed columns, and launched international editions. Over time the magazine developed a broad spectrum of material, from breaking stories and analysis to reviews and commentary.
The magazine was purchased by The Washington Post Company in 1961.
Osborn Elliott was named editor of Newsweek in 1961 and became the editor in chief in 1969. Edward Kosner became editor from 1975 to 1979 after directing the magazine’s extensive coverage of the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.
Richard M. Smith became Chairman in 1998, the year that the magazine inaugurated its “Best High Schools in America” list.
During 2008–2009, Newsweek undertook a dramatic business restructuring. Citing difficulties in competing with online news sources to provide unique news in a weekly publication, the magazine refocused its content on opinion and commentary beginning with its May 24, 2009 issue. It shrank its subscriber rate base, from 3.1 million to 2.6 million in early 2008, to 1.9 million in July 2009 and then to 1.5 million in January 2010—a decline of 50% in one year. Meacham described his strategy as “counterintuitive” as it involved discouraging renewals and nearly doubling subscription prices as it sought a more affluent subscriber base for its advertisers.
By May 2010, Newsweek had been losing money for the past two years and was put up for sale. The magazine was sold to audio pioneer Sidney Harman on August 2, 2010, for $1 in exchange for assuming the magazine’s financial liabilities. Harman’s bid was accepted over three competitors. Meacham left the magazine upon completion of the sale. Sidney Harman was the husband of Jane Harman, at that time a member of Congress from California.
At the end of 2010, Newsweek merged with the online publication The Daily Beast, following extensive negotiations between the respective proprietors. Tina Brown, The Daily Beast ‘s editor-in-chief, became editor of both publications.
The goal of The Newsweek Daily Beast Company was to have The Daily Beast be a source of instant analysis of the news, while Newsweek would serve to take a look at the bigger picture, provide deeper analysis, and “connect the dots,” in the words of Harman, and for both publications to ultimately be profitable.
During her tenure as editor-in-chief of Newsweek, Brown has taken the news weekly in a different direction from her predecessor. Whereas Jon Meacham looked to make the focus solely on politics and world affairs, Brown has brought the focus back on to all of current events, not just politics, business, and world affairs (although these issues are still the focus of the magazine). This is seen in increased attention fashion and pop culture and many of her covers since taking the job.
Newsweek was redesigned in March 2011. More room was made available in the front of the magazine for columnists, editors, and special guests. A new “News Gallery” section featured two-page spreads of photographs from the week with a brief article accompanying each one. The “NewsBeast” section featured short articles, a brief interview with a newsmaker, and several graphs and charts for quick reading in the style of The Daily Beast. Brown retained Newsweek’s focus on in-depth, analytical features and original reporting on politics and world affairs, as well as a new focus on longer fashion and pop culture features. A larger culture section named “Omnivore” featured art, music, books, film, theater, food, travel, and television, including a weekly “Books” and “Want” section. The back page was reserved for a “My Favorite Mistake” column written by celebrity guest columnists about a mistake they made that defines who they are.
On October 18, 2012, the company announced that the American print edition would be discontinued at the end of 2012 after 80 years of publication, citing the increasing difficulty of maintaining a paper weekly magazine in the face of declining advertising and subscription revenues and increasing costs for print production and distribution. The online edition is named “Newsweek Global“.