Can International Business Times Reanimate Newsweek?
As has been widely reported, IAC/InterActive announced on Saturday that it had reached a deal to sell Newsweek to the owners of International Business Times (IBT) for an undisclosed amount. The fact that Newsweek, (publishing since January as a digital-only version) has been sinking into obscurity makes the announcement less surprising. However, given that Barry Diller, the billionaire media mogul who owns IAC/InterActive, called the purchase of Newsweek "a mistake" and the plan to save it "stupid," you can also assume that IBT Media has a different plan in mind.
In a profile in Sunday's New York Times, Tina Brown, the editor charged with merging Newsweek and The Daily Beast, said she had "planned to save Newsweek by building a digital-age magazine driven by the beat of the Internet, with the high-quality writing found in traditional print."
That was a noble goal that didn't work out.
But the IB Times is a very different animal from Newsweek, or The Daily Beast for that matter. IBT is an online only publication in desperate need of brand recognition. Despite being ranked by Alexa as the fourth most-visited online newspaper and its prevalence in Google News search results, not many people recognize the name.
I'd venture that IBT will populate the Newsweek website with IBT content and watch the site's traffic take off.
But again, IBT is not rooted in the world of old-guard journalism. It's a very SEO driven organization that has been accused of "churnalism." Based on what a first-hand source tells us, the company's freelance rates leave little room for original reporting. The Newsweek nameplate may appear in lights, but I expect that readers expecting content on par with the days of 'ole will be left wanting. Interestingly, IBTimes is headquartered in former Newsweek office in the New York Financial District.
Denis Wilson is the content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aims to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.