Is Newsweek Starved for Resources? (UPDATED)

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Ira Stoll makes an astute observation about Newsweek's not-quite-yet demise:

An Associated Press dispatch on the Washington Post Company putting Newsweek up for sale paraphrases the chairman of the Washington Post Co., Donald Graham, as saying, that he "hopes a buyer with more resources will be able to get the magazine back to profitability."

More resources? The Washington Post Company has a market capitalization of about $4.6 billion, cash on hand of $862 million, and pays a $9 a share annual dividend, according to Yahoo! Finance. The company's directors include, in Warren Buffett and Melinda French Gates, representatives of two of the two richest families in America. How much "more" resources would be required to get Newsweek to profitability, and don't you kind of think that if it were possible to do at a reasonable return on investment, Donald Graham would have already done it?

This is a fairly miserable day in journalism, and I think everyone, except possibly the editor of Time, hopes for the best, in particular for the (shrunken) corps of Newsweek writers. But I don't think there's particular reason to be optimistic. The future is in a combination of extremely long-form and extremely short-form -- the middle of the road is not where it's at.

UPDATE: Someone from Newsweek -- a person who asked to remain anonymous -- just called to issue a plausible-sounding clarification: The question is not whether the Post Company has enough money to support Newsweek, this person said, the issue is that the money required to build out an infrastructure that would keep Newsweek going is disproportionate to the potential yield. In other words, if the Washington Post Company published fifteen magazines, it could float Newsweek. But it doesn't publish 15 magazines. 

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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