'Newsweek' Gets New Execs, New Look

Rick Smith is leaving Newsweek after 37 years, vacating both his editor in chief and CEO roles. Smith had been editor in chief for 24 years, and CEO for 16. Thomas Ascheim--previously general manager of Nickelodeon, owned by Viacom--is moving into the CEO spot. John Meacham will continue as editor.

Smith's announcement included news of other management changes. Ann McDaniel, an executive vice president at the Washington Post Company, has been named to the new role of managing director at Newsweek. Publisher Greg Osberg has been named president of Newsweek--replacing Harold Shain, who is moving to sister publication Budget Travel as president and CEO.

In his memorandum to Newsweek staffers explaining his decision, Smith conceded: "It is no secret that Newsweek is operating in a challenging business environment. The advertising market for all general-interest magazines is difficult, and postal, benefit and other costs continue to rise. But we have met similar challenges in the past, and we will again."

In the first three quarters of 2007, Newsweek's ad pages fell 8.5% and rate-card revenue dropped 3.8%, compared to the same period in 2006, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. In the first half of 2007, newsstand sales fell 9.3% to 100,092, per the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Finally, according to data from Mediamark Research and Intelligence (formerly Mediamark Research Inc.), Newsweek's total audience has declined in recent years, from 21.3 million in spring 2002 to 18.4 million in spring 2007.

To revitalize the magazine and spur reader interest, Newsweek recently introduced a major redesign, beginning with its Oct. 22 issue. The magazine got a new look, including less visual clutter, longer articles, fewer images and clearer headings. The redesign represents an attempt to scale up the magazine's intellectual content, and also introduces three new columns on food, parenting and technology.

The redesign follows a similar move by competitor Time, which also involved more text, fewer images and a clear, tighter design in general.

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