Now that she has her hands on Newsweek, what exactly is Tina Brown going to do with it? Don’t expect any quick answers. The new editor in chief of the magazine and the Daily Beast said it will take “a while” for her to make her mark on the print title.
“We need to gather our forces, redesign the magazine, rethink it a little bit,” she said in an interview.
This story first appeared in the November 15, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
But there’s already some bad news for Beast staffers. They will soon have to leave their sprawling ultramodern offices at the IAC Building on 18th Street and move into Newsweek’s new offices in the Financial District at 7 Hanover Square.
As for any job cuts, Newsweek owner Sidney Harman was a bit evasive when asked about it, given that the combined Newsweek-Daily Beast staff is now more than 300 employees strong.
“Harman talks in riddles,” said a Newsweek staffer who attended the Friday staff meeting to unveil the deal. “He said something along the lines of, ‘Yes, you can be sure that we will and you can be unsure we won’t.’ He was being rhetorically cute.”
Perhaps because, after a long, long, long search, he finally had an editor — and a partner in Barry Diller. How long the three egos will coexist is bound to captivate the media world for quite a while. At least for now, though, all was good.
“Very well, very well,” said Brown when asked how she’s feeling. “My BlackBerry was pinging all night.”
“It feels wonderful,” said Harman on Friday afternoon, just as he was boarding a plane.
For Brown and Diller, they get their hands on a printed product that they can sell to advertisers along with the Web site. A few weeks ago, Diller said that “one way or the other,” the Beast would add a print component, since it’s something that still — despite all that’s said about the death of print — appeals to advertisers and still earns bigger ad revenues as a result.
“I think it’s a good model,” said Brown. “You’re seeing this with Bloomberg and BusinessWeek, and Politico and its newspaper, and now you’re going to see the Daily Beast and Newsweek.”
On Friday afternoon, Brown was a little late to introduce herself to the Newsweek team, so Harman was forced to kill time and did his best to entertain the crowd in a 10th floor auditorium, said one attendee. Harman did a party trick where he had the audience applaud when he raised his right hand and laugh when he raised his left.
“Do you guys know what vamping is?” he asked the crowd.
The flacks and the businesspeople played along. The journalists were puzzled — and as Brown, Diller and Harman work out just how the two properties will merge, they could stay that way for a while.
—John Koblin and Matthew Lynch