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BEAUTY AND THE BEAST?: Ever since news broke that The Daily Beast owner Barry Diller was talking to Newsweek owner Sidney Harman about a potential partnership, there have been rivers of speculation as to what a deal between the relatively new Web site edited by Tina Brown and the old-school newsweekly (that’s currently without an editor) would look like. But a more important question is: why would the Beast, which posts buzz worthy stories and has been luring a string of top talent — the latest being Howard Kurtz from The Washington Post — want to associate itself with the beleaguered Newsweek? A quick look at Newsweek’s numbers doesn’t seem to give an answer: In the first half, the magazine was down 30 percent on the newsstand and 40 percent in overall circulation. Advertising fell 13.5 percent year to date, according to Media Industry Newsletter, and Publishers Information Bureau had ad pages down 26 percent last year.
So what gives? The Daily Beast’s owner, IAC, isn’t in the magazine publishing business, and Diller’s career has never involved newsprint; instead, he’s totally focused on broadcast and digital media. One clue, though, could come from a quick look at Web traffic. As the Beast celebrates its second anniversary this week, its traffic is slipping. According to Internet tracking firm comScore, The Daily Beast registered 2.2 million unique monthly U.S. visitors in September — a six-month low. Traffic at newsweek.com, meanwhile, was more than twice that during the same month, with 6.2 million uniques. Although the magazine’s Internet traffic is erratic — it showed a six-month high of 7.2 million visitors in April and a low of 3.8 million in July — its name recognition and partnership with msnbc.com have it consistently outpacing the Beast.
This story first appeared in the October 8, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Beast rather infamously launched without a business model, and Diller has said he doesn’t expect to make money on the operation in its first two to three years. In interviews, he has professed a desire to move beyond the traditional display ads that dominate on the Web in favor of a new, presumably more lucrative, Internet advertising model. The plan hinges on the Beast building a strong enough brand — which, if traffic is any indication, hasn’t yet happened, despite Brown’s best efforts. Harman was said to have approached her about editing Newsweek, an offer she seemed to have turned down before then perhaps nudging Diller to look into some kind of deal with Harman.
While the traffic data might provide a partial explanation as to why Harman and Diller are in talks, there are still plenty of details to work out, including which of the billionaires will be in the driver’s seat. Billionaires having healthy egos, the talks — even if they are preliminary — could still come crashing down.
Meanwhile, as Newsweek staffers yet again wait to hear of their fate, they at least received a bit of concrete information on Thursday. Management told employees that the magazine’s offices will relocate to 7 Hanover Square in Manhattan’s Financial District the weekend before Thanksgiving. That is, if a deal with IAC isn’t done before then.
— Amy Wicks and Matthew Lynch
SHIFTING SEXES: It was revealed internally Wednesday that W’s longtime art director, Nathalie Kirsheh, will leave the magazine to become design director at Details. Kirsheh has been at W since August 2005. On the publishing side, Details is up 30 percent for the December issue and up 14 percent for the fourth quarter.
OVEREXPOSURE: Mango chose Terry Richardson, the enfant terrible of fashion photography, to shoot its autumn catalogue. Richardson has come under fire of late, as models he’s worked with continue to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct at his shoots. From all accounts, the Mango sessions went off without incident. “We’ve chosen Terry Richardson as the photographer of our fall catalogue because we think his work is amazing and reflects the editorial side of fashion that we wanted to show,” said Ninona Vila, a Mango spokeswoman. Richardson photographed Anja Rubik for two days on the streets of Paris’ Marais district. Mango’s campaign will appear in magazines, exterior advertising, online and in cinemas in Spain and France. For its winter catalogue, Olivia Palermo, a socialite, model and actress who stars in the reality series “The City,” was photographed by Txema Yeste at the Hotel Palace in Barcelona.
— Sharon Edelson
THE PAST AND FUTURE: Though Giorgio Armani’s Frames of Life eyewear collection may be a throwback to the past, its marketing campaign is certainly modern. The Italian fashion house is launching a video and dedicated Web site called giorgioarmani-framesoflife.com that will go live on Monday. Integrating aspects from the current print campaign featuring Marta Berzkalna and Kelly Rippy in several different scenes of everyday life, the interactive portal will allow visitors to create personalized videos and photo albums, which can then be shared through various social media platforms. One of the aims of the initiative is to demonstrate and emphasize the artisanship that goes into these Twenties- and Forties-inspired pieces, manufactured by licensee Safilo Group.
— Christine Lee