By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
U.S. News & World Report is getting out of the newsmagazine business and going all digital.
The financially struggling magazine, which cut back to biweekly publication earlier this year, now plans to reinvent itself on the Web. While it will publish one print edition each month, according to staffers briefed on the decision, these will be entirely devoted to consumer guides -- such as its annual rankings of colleges and hospitals -- and contain no other news.
The Washington-based magazine, owned by real estate developer Mort Zuckerman, has long been outsold by Time and Newsweek, and several rounds of layoffs in recent years have left U.S. News a shell of its former self. High-profile writers such as Roger Simon, now with Politico, were let go.
President Bill Holiber and editor Brian Kelly sent the staff a remarkably upbeat memo, considering that the move ends regular publication of what was founded as United States News in 1933.
The shift to the Web site, now attracting about 7 million unique monthly visitors, "allows us to stay ahead of a changing media landscape and do an even better job of motivating our readers to act on the information we provide them," they wrote. "For all of you who have worked so hard to make this transition possible, say good-bye to Web 2.0 and welcome to Journalism 5.0." Kelly did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Teams will produce "special reports, daily news updates, blogs, newsletters, rankings, guides and videos," the memo said. The staff has shrunk to the point that few additional layoffs are expected. At the end of 2007, U.S. News' circulation was just over 2 million, trailing Time, with 3.4 million, and Newsweek, owned by The Washington Post Co., with 3.1 million.