Newsweek’s decision to go digital-only has been met with some skepticism, but cutting printing and distribution costs may allow the publication to truly innovate and capitalize on the growing number of subscription tablet editions. It certainly allowed Newsweek to put its money into its design and graphics department, evidenced by the animated cover of its first digital-only issue:
As I’ve said many times before, its best to play to the strength of any media — audio intricacies for radio, visual motion for television, sophisticated and artistic layouts in print, and interactivity online.
The Newsweek cover definitely offers something new, and therefore it’s a smart PR move by Tina Brown. But, it’s still unclear if this will really sell readers. It’s not particularly interactive, and as Alexis Costa of Bonnier said during last week’s MediaNext event by Folio:, if people are subscribing for a reading experience, they may be annoyed when presented with auto-cued video.
But what will really end up undermining Newsweek’s success is its decision to make the whole article free-to-view online. It makes little sense for the site to generate so much PR, and then not use that PR for conversion. While it may have made sense to eliminate print, it’s unlikely that the advertising revenue is sufficient online to make up that loss.
So install a paywall, Newsweek. Or at least a meter. Otherwise you’re fabulous PR and site traffic will go to waste.