The digital age has been taking a bite out of the print medium for some time now, causing people to constantly predict that magazines are doomed. The problem is that this speculation has resonated as hollow as you can still walk into many a book store and find racks filled with the monthly publications. Well, as of next month, one of the longest running staples of the news section of those racks will only be there every so often as it has decided that its path to salvation is in the form of going digital.

US News & World Report America's Best Colleges issueOn Friday an internal memo went out to the staff of U.S. News & World Report that the December issue would be their last monthly publication.  The 62-year-old publication will continue to sell special issues such as its annual rankings of America’s colleges, the hospital ranking issue and so on via news stands and “targeted distribution”, but beyond that it will be moving solely into the realm of being a digital publication.

According to the memo, the company currently has about nine million monthly unique visitors, but it is going to become more aggressive in its efforts to increase its channels.  There are also plans for increased presence on the iPad and Android-based tablets in the near future.  As the executives said, “We can’t sit still. We have to keep improving the existing products while selectively creating new ones.”

While this isn’t the first major publication to make it obvious that it was putting more emphasis on the digital format, I do believe it’s the first one to cease regular print versions.  The magazine started life in 1933  as United States News, and in 1946 World Report came into existence. In 1948 the two magazines decided to merge, taking on the new name of U.S. News & World Report. It has always had a good reputation for reliable reporting, and has been considered a “go to” publication when you wanted the facts. Hopefully this tradition will continue online, but we see no reason why it shouldn’t.

What say you? An isolated incident, or the beginning of a tidal wave?