It’s been a rough decade for news magazines in the United States. Both advertising and circulation revenues sharply declined as a result of rising competition from online news and the severe financial crisis that hit the country in 2008.
There has been a lot of discussion about the turmoil in the newspaper industry. What’s often overlooked is the fact that magazines are barely doing any better. In the past decade America’s most prolific news magazines have all suffered severe drops in advertising and circulation revenues. It appears likely that the traditional Newsweek, which went out of print in the past year, won’t be the last casualty of the ongoing crisis.
While things weren’t exactly going well for most magazines between 2003 and 2007, it wasn’t until 2008 that things really started going wrong for the industry. The financial crisis hit full force and ad revenues started plunging. Newsweek was hit particularly hard. Ad pages in the traditional magazine dropped 19% in 2008, 26% in 2009 and another 20% in 2010. In 2011, Newsweek sold less than half as many ad pages as it had before the crisis in 2007 and, to make matters worse, the magazine’s circulation dropped 50% as well. One year later, Newsweek almost 80 years in print adapted becoming an online-only publication.
While other news magazines had shown signs of recovery in 2010 and 2011, another downturn hit the industry in 2012. The most recent numbers aren’t exactly promising either. By second quarter of 2013, all but one major news magazine reported double-digit declines in ad pages. Most reported a decline close to 20% or above. It can only be hoped that those declines will at least partly be offset by increases in digital revenue, because if not, news magazines will quickly become a vanishing medium.