U.S. News & World, the No 3 weekly news magazine in U.S., has seen the writing and is among the first to respond to it: it will be dropping to a biweekly frequency starting next year, and has formed a new group called U.S. News Media Group, in an effort to develop more franchises beyond the weekly under it. This leaves Time and Newsweek in the weekly market, though they too have been hammered with circulation and ad page declines.
Here’s the money quote: “‘News’ and ‘week’ becomes an oxymoron,” according to Brian Kelly, editor of U.S. News, quoted in this AdAge story.
Ad pages year to date have fallen 23.7 percent at Newsweek, 27.2 percent at Time and 32.7 percent at U.S. News, according to MIN. Time reported average paid circulation of nearly 3.4 million for the second half of last year, down 17.6 percent; newsstand sales declined 19.4 percent. Newsweek’s average was flat at 3.1 million, including a 16.3 percent decline on newsstands. U.S. News also reported flat circulation, at just over 2 million, as newsstand slipped 7.9 percent. Meanwhile, U.S. News has already trimmed its frequency to 36 issues this year from 46 last year.
Not sure what creating a new group will solve, unless the group actually is able to build a news machine much better than any of the other sources out there, which is as hard any any challenge facing the news media business out there. Maybe they could turn the whole company into what it is best known for: lists and rankings. Even this announcement from the company emphasizes the big part lists play in the business.