Jonathan Alter to Barry Diller: Where Are 80 Years of Newsweek Archives? (Updated)

Jonathan Alter to Barry Diller: Where Are 80 Years of Newsweek Archives? (Updated)

“I can't get an article I wrote in Newsweek in 1985," says the former Newsweek columnist and senior editor

barbarella coverJonathan Alter, a former Newsweek columnist and senior editor, said that magazine owner Barry Diller needs to “make good” on preserving Newsweek's archives and making them available to the public.

“I can't get an article I wrote in Newsweek in 1985. There's something wrong with that,” he said in an interview with TheWrap to mark the publication of his new book “The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies.”

Alter said that Newsweek had sold the archive, but its ownership was currently unclear.

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Update: IAC chief Diller wrote TheWrap that this was not the case. "We own the archives, always have," he wrote in an email on Monday. "They're not currently digitized, but available."

When asked where they were available Diller said they were accessible "to Newsweek/Daily Beast employees."

A spokeswoman for IAC clarified: "We haven't invested in putting everything online yet. Spending the money to put it online hasn't been our first priority." 

Diller merged Newsweek with The Daily Beast in 2010, but shut the weekly print edition at the end of last year after major, ongoing financial losses. He has recently said that he would like to sell Newsweek, but few believe that he will readily find a buyer. The magazine was in print from 1933 to the end of 2012.

The archives are not available on the Daily Beast/Newsweek page, nor is there information on the subscriber page about where to access past content. Google searches do not surface digital versions of archived material.

For example, a search for a famous Barbarella cover story about Jane Fonda from November 1967 can only be found in a used print copy on Amazon.com.  An “ehow.com” query of where to find old Newsweek stories directs readers to their local libraries, noting:

“If the article being searched for was published within the last 12 months, it may be found on the magazine's website. Otherwise, finding older articles may require ordering back issues or visiting a library.”

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Alter, who worked at Newsweek for 28 years, called the situation “depressing.”

He added: “It's up to Barry Diller to make it right — for all the people who worked at Newsweek for all those years. For the millions of readers who need access to Newsweek's history.”