Web Sitings: The Online Flavor of The Week
In an effort to cut costs and stay relevant in an age of up-to-the-minute, breaking online news, US News & World Report in 2008 reduced its print frequency from weekly to biweekly, and finally to monthly. Similarly, Newsweek plans to shrink its print format and focus on more feature-length stories. Its editor recently told The New York Times, “The drill of chasing the week’s news to add a couple of hard-fought new details is not sustainable.”
Then in late January, US News & World Report pulled a 180, launching a “digital newsweekly” slated to cover what the magazine formerly delivered in print, a move that begs the question: In today’s marketplace, where do newsweeklies fit in online?
The Week seems to have found a niche. Launched in the United States in 2001 (a version had already been launched in Great Britain) with 100,000 subscribers, it steadily has grown its subscription base to 500,000, and its rate base continues to see growth as other newsweeklies’ decline.
The magazine provides readers with a range of voices and opinions drawn from a variety of other media outlets.
TheWeek.com, which launched in September 2007 and underwent a redesign last July, mirrors its successful print model, but with added online-only features and content.
Instead of trying to break hard news, The Week’s editors provide a quick, but comprehensive look at what the most important news sources are saying about the top stories of the week. “We have a different mandate really. … We’re not trying to break news on our Web site, and I think others sort of feel some pressure to do that,” says Frank Wilkinson, executive editor of The Week since August 2008 and former blog editor for the online news site The Huffington Post.
Interactive and User-Generated Content
In print, The Week cites articles sources, but on TheWeek.com, the jump from summarized content to original sources is more immediate with inline links. While most Web sites would shy away from so many outbound links, Wilkinson sees them as a testament to the publication’s editorial mission. “We send readers to a lot of different sites … but that’s part of our job … to be a curator, and find interesting things on the Web for people and then tell them where to find them,” he comments.