What do you get when you take ‘news’ out of Newsweek?

My guess: a pale imitation of the Economist.

According to today’s Observer,

Newsweek’s owner, the Washington Post, unveiled a raft of job cuts recently, following a previous round of redundancies that led to more than 100 departures, as it slims its editorial operation. It will no longer cover news, its editor Jon Meacham has said, choosing instead to focus on explaining events and providing readers with commentary and analysis.

A smaller staff working for a smaller Newsweek will deliver intelligent insight to a more discerning, affluent readership. If that sounds familiar, it is because the Economist, one of the most successful current affairs titles for many years, already offers readers a similar service.

Newsweek will position itself as a slightly more upmarket equivalent, printed on heavier, more luxuriant paper, with a new design placing a premium on white space. There will also be a shift in editorial emphasis, with more culture coverage and a bluffer’s guide to the week’s events, an innovation borrowed from the Week – Dennis Publishing’s news digest which now sells more than 500,000 copies in the US, following a 2001 launch. The hope is it will attract new advertisers, including luxury goods groups, weaning the title off its current dependence on financial services giants, car manufacturers and the pharmaceutical industry.

The Media commentator and Vanity Fair writer Michael Wolff isn’t impressed. He told an audience of industry executives in New York last week: “If Newsweek is around in five years, I’ll buy you dinner.”