Sunday, October 21, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Newsweek

Newsweek, the 79 year-old weekly news magazine icon is going 100% digital. Only Time remains as a general news weekly magazine in print.

It was Time magazine that got me hooked on reading in fourth grade. My folks subscribed to it and I was a loyal and avid reader. But it was funny, every time I went to a doctor or dentist’s office, it was the Washington Post’s Newsweek that was in every waiting room.

My college dorm had a reading area that had both Time and Newsweek and I started reading Newsweek regularly. Newsweek became my news magazine of choice and the Wall Street Journal became my newspaper of choice.

Somewhere over the last twenty years I dropped my subscription to Newsweek, as kids and work sap your time to read. The Wall Street Journal had it right; get the subscription to the workplace and they will be less likely apt to lapse.

Unless you live in a city that has seen its daily newspaper shut down or cut back, the shift of Newsweek to an all digital edition is a real shocker. It jars the culture that this “digital thing” is finally hitting home, even if we personally have long-since dropped our subscription. It’s like hearing about a long-ago TV star who has died. It’s news-worthy to a part of the population but means nothing to younger generations.

Over the last decade, just like other magazines, Newsweek tried to stem the decline in readership of their print edition. They even brought in Tina Brown, who was editor of Vanity Fair. In fact, Tina essentially invented Vanity Fair as a phenomenon, but Newsweek was way bigger than re-jiggering the look or the format.

Newsweek was an icon and the fabric of many of our lives, but printed publications are all living on borrowed time. Very similar to a lot of fundraising organizations. Their donor bases are declining and revenue is falling off even as their missions are as relevant today as they were 50 years ago. Yet the fundraising leadership clings to the fiction that “when the economy turns our revenue will come back.”

The economy WILL come back, but not same-o, same-o fundraising.

The world is going digital and, as it does, less and less people will get their information from printed sources . . . hence Newsweek goes 100% digital.

For fundraisers, is Newsweek going digital enough to get your attention? How about the Postal Service entering bankruptcy? Are you going to wait for that before you move?

It should be obvious to nonprofit leaders that their fundraising groups must develop a plan to be successful in the digital world. Merely acquiring a Web site or Facebook page isn’t a plan…it’s just a start.

When is your fundraising organization going 100% digital?


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