Depending on the perspective — and the spin — U.S. News & World Report is either shutting down or taking the next step in a long transition from print to online with the announcement that the December issue will be its last. In an internal memo sent Friday afternoon and posted on Romenesko, Editor Brian Kelly and digital head Bill Holiber told the staff the magazine will only publish “select” single-topic issues, ie the rankings isssues that make the money.
Kelly and company insists the Mort Zuckerman outlet, once a weekly print magazine, will continue to produce content online but that cutting regular print editions was the only option. The emphasis online will continue to be on rankings and research, what they call “useful journalism.”
With an average unique audience of 9 million and counting, we’ve become a significant publisher in the digital space, creating content that people want and an audience that advertisers will pay for. Each of our channels — Politics & Policy, Education, Money, Health, Autos, and Travel — are now fully-formed business units that are developing on their own best course. By working both in the vertical channels and horizontally across them, the company has diversified its revenue beyond display advertising to include e-commerce products, lead generation, licensing and other sources.
What you won’t see any mention of in that memo is news. That’s not what USN&WR is about these days although it does produce “news you can use” — and it is expanding its digital-only U.S. News Weekly, launched in 2009, to tablets.
That makes it harder to say that USN&WR is shutting down, which was the instant reaction. It’s not. It may even make more money from print this way.