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6 Things You Should Have Bought in 2012

Newsweek and Spin in print

Newsweek readers saw the day coming when editor-in-chief Tina Brown's Daily Beast site merged with a a nearly 80-year-old publication and shifted its focus.

Gone were the doctors' waiting room long reads on political and global affairs. A redesign last year broadened the magazine's focus, cranked up the sensationalism on the cover and turned the interior into a nugget of analysis wrapped in a best-of compilation of online content. Newsweek lost more than 50% of its readers between 2007 and last year, while circulation fell below 1.5 million.

Spin was similarly troubled as the young music fans that were the publication's base during its '90s heyday abandoned it long ago for blogs and sites such as Pitchfork. Buzzmedia took over the magazine in July, made it bimonthly and laid off a third of the staff. Spin's shift to online and mobile may also be a bit late, as its subscriber base sank to fewer than 330,000.

So how does it work out when old media mainstays make an abrupt and awkward shift online? Ask Rupert Murdoch and the staff of The Daily, the iPad-only news publication that folded this year after consumers showed no real demand for such a thing. Its failure not only cost a bunch of people their jobs, but it may have pushed News Corp.'s (NWS) decision to split off its publishing companies from its television and film operations after Murdoch routinely used profits from the latter to cover losses by the former.

A Suzuki automobile

Think about the last time you remember America getting excited about a Suzuki product.

Was it back in 1988, when Consumer Reports accused the popular but top-heavy Suzuki Samurai of being rollover prone? Was it during the 1990s, when the Suzuki Sidekick won hearts as General Motors' (GM) Geo and Chevrolet Tracker and gave the> American driving public its first look at the small SUV market that would eventually give us the Toyota (TM) RAV4 and Honda (HMC) CR-V?

We can't remember, but neither can most American car buyers. Suzuki sold little more than 23,000 cars in the U.S. in the first 11 months of the year, down 3.9% from last year and including a 19.2% drop in car sales. By comparison, Toyota sold eight times as many total vehicles in November alone.

American Suzuki, the company's U.S. branch, is $346 million in debt. Half of that is owed solely to its Japanese parent company. It has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and vowed that when it emerges, it will pull Suzuki automobiles out of the U.S. market and sell only motorcycles, ATVs and outboard boat engines.

The shame is that Suzukis weren't bad little cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Suzuki Kizashi its highest rating on a tough new crash test that measures a vehicle's reaction to being hit at 40 miles per hour on the outside of its front bumper. The Toyota Camry outright failed that test, but sold 29,000 vehicles in the U.S. in November. Only 500 Kizashis were sold here during that same span.
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