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  1. North America
March 26, 2024

Newsweek editor: We can claim back our place on kitchen tables across America

Jennifer H Cunningham joins amid a surge in online traffic for the news magazine brand.

By Bron Maher

Newsweek’s new executive editor Jennifer H Cunningham believes the title can claim back its “prominence on kitchen tables across America”.

Previously editor-in-chief of Business Insider’s news division, Cunningham started work at the news magazine last week, shortly before Press Gazette reported it had more than doubled its web traffic in a year.

Newsweek was the fastest-growing site in Press Gazette’s latest ranking of the top 50 news sites in the US, receiving 69.1 million visits in February – up 130% in a year, according to Similarweb data. It was the second month in a row the site was the biggest grower on the list.

Newsweek ranks 22nd for visits on the top 50 list, above CBS News, Politico and Buzzfeed but below Cunningham’s former employer Business Insider and The Guardian.

A Newsweek spokesperson said “the share of readers visiting us via our front door is setting records” and is its “best source of stable, growing audience independent of third-party algorithm changes”. Google updates and Facebook’s deprioritisation of news have in the past year impacted publishers with a smaller proportion of direct traffic.

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The spokesperson added that direct traffic was up 60% over the past six months and hit a weekly all-time record in March. Google Discover traffic is also providing “all-time highs”.

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Newsweek owner and chief executive Dev Pragad wrote at the end of 2023 that rankings and consumer guides had been major growth areas for the business last year.

Newsweek’s new executive editor Jennifer H Cunningham: ‘I love to get my hands dirty with journalism’

Cunningham told Press Gazette her brief is to broaden Newsweek’s audience and “really to enhance and augment the journalism”.

She said she was looking forward “to eventually really working with senior leadership, and working with reporters, to enhance Newsweek’s culture” while holding on to its core values, which she described as “fairness, an outlook that is very balanced, that is really striving to be centrist”.

Newsweek is a mass-market publication (online and via its weekly magazine), which is not necessarily an enviable thing to be as the news industry reorients itself toward high-value niche audiences. Cunningham said: “I think the days where entities could be all things to all people are over.”

Instead, Cunningham said, “we have to be very intentional on what we give the reader – what value that we add to the reader’s day-to-day life. 

“And it very much feels like we’re in an enviable position where we’re able to really contextualise the news, explain the news, analyse the news, explain to the reader who are the winners, who are the losers… I think that we have to choose our spots and we have to just really be excellent at them.”

Asked whether Newsweek could ever regain the sort of cultural prominence it had decades ago, she said: “I feel like there is no limit on our ambition. There’s no limit on our journalism. And as long as we keep fairness in mind and keep our audience in mind, there’s no limit to what we can do and what we can achieve once again… and claiming [back] our prominence on kitchen tables across America.”

Cunningham described herself as a “nurturing” and “empathetic” leader. Asked what else Newsweek reporters should know about their new boss, she said: “I’m a newshound. If I wasn’t a journalist I would be reading six or seven newspapers every day. This is my life, this is what I’ve always wanted to do, this is in my blood, this is what I am.

“From a leadership perspective, I’m not in my ivory tower away from the newsroom. I love to get my hands dirty with journalism – I love to talk about stories with journalists, talk headlines, unofficially mentor early career journalists. I really want to be the leader in the newsroom that I never had coming up in this industry.”

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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