If the owners of Newsweek were hoping that 2011 was going to be a turnaround year for the struggling magazine, the latest figures from the Publisher’s Information Bureau on magazine advertising for last year show exactly the opposite.
For the full year, ad pages at Newsweek were down 16.8% versus a 3.1% decline for the magazine industry as a whole. Newsweek had total ad pages of 745 in 2011 compared to 1,370 at its main competitor, Time, which was off by just 2.5%, widening the gap between the two publications.
But even though Time’s ad pages were down they still managed to increase their ad revenue from 2010 by 1.5% to $419 million, while Newsweek’s ad revenues declined 11.7% to $140 million.
The results, after nearly a year with high profile editor Tina Brown in charge, only underscore the tremendous challenge she and the new owners of Newsweek faced in trying to turn around a magazine that had been bleeding red ink for years but whose previous owner, The Washington Post Co., couldn’t bear to pull the plug on the liberal newsmagazine.
But that’s what they should have done and that’s what Barry Diller and company should do before Newsweek drags the rest of the company with it into a financial abyss.