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The end of an era… or just the end of Newsweek?

May 8, 2010

There’s been much weeping and moaning this week about the end of Newsweek. Apparently it is up for sale and while it’s few remaining readers didn’t seem to care, others in the news media marked this as the end of some sort of critical era.

I guess this is the same feeling people in the carrier pigeon had when that industry got it’s wings clipped or when those in the proclamation-by-stone-tablet market got all of their chiropractic bills.

Yes, it seems the week-old news market is coming to an end, or is it? Some news weeklies seem to still be doing well, the Economist comes to mind. Even weeklies such as the New Yorker still seem to have some life in them.

I guess some would say that they aren’t really news weeklies. And I guess that’s the point. Yes, simply reporting the news one week late isn’t going to cut it anymore. Media companies, like any other company, needs to innovate upon it’s core product. If your product is news and opinion, then you need to begin to add some value on top.

The problem with magazines such as Newsweek or Time is that the content they offer is pretty generic. There is little that I could read there that I couldn’t get in countless other places on the web. Even their opinion writers can generally be found in a million other places (is it possible to really avoid George Will or Fareed Zakaria?)

By contrast the perspectives (and catchy writing style) of the Economist, or the high brow world view of the New Yorker provides for me as a reader a unique experience that I can’t find anywhere else.

News is a commodity. Mainstream Oped writers are commodities. You can find the stuff (or something very similar) in a million other places on the web. The existing news media that will survive are those who offer a value add or a differentiated service on top of the basic news/oped product.

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