This really is not about Newsstand. The app versions of the Economist and the New Yorker were available before Newsstand came along. And I don't see that print is better when I can have multiple editions of The Economist loaded on my iPad to have with me on the plane, which I regularly do. I couldn't see the point of lugging extra paper around, or having to depend on getting an Internet connection to read it on the Web.
But as I said, different strokes for different folks.
I've never lugged around the Economist; a single issue is pretty thin, lol. I bring the latest copy and my iPad has a bunch of other content, of course, when on a plane. Let's say the plane is taking off or landing, that's when print is readable and digital isn't.
The Newsstand complaint basically is lack of choice for certain content. The NYT, Financial Times and Economist, for example, have online content that isn't locked to an app. Sounds like the New Yorker is not accessible in the same way, if you want all its content, so you're stuck with using Newsstand.