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Memo Pad: Jacob Weisberg Blasts The Daily… Arrival at Departures…

Slate chairman Jacob Weisberg didn’t mince words about The Daily in a lecture to journalism students at Columbia University.

BLASTING THE DAILY: Slate chairman Jacob Weisberg certainly didn’t mince words about Rupert Murdoch’s new baby The Daily in a lecture to journalism students at Columbia University last Thursday. Looking very professorial standing behind the podium in a blazer and blue jeans, with a low-hanging scarf around his neck, he said of News Corp.’s new iPad newspaper, “It represents everything that I hope you will steer clear of as journalists and people who think about news in relation to technology. I mean, first of all the content itself is very low-brow, facile, kind of USA Today, you know. It’s very attractive, but if you read the articles, they’re 600 words long and they sort of digest what you know already.

“It’s a daily, it’s once a day,” he continued. “They say they break in and update it for big news, but did they update it five times today to point out that [Egyptian president Hosni] Mubarak was going to resign though he didn’t in fact resign, what’s the response to that? No, they may have updated it at some point. It’s a digest, it doesn’t have an active relationship [with the news] that we’ve come to expect. There’s no commenting, no social media, no links out. ”

This story first appeared in the February 14, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

But how did he really feel? “It’s just a bad version of a newspaper in electronic form with a very condescending view of the audience.”

Weisberg recited one of his favorite tweets to the students: the time he told editors at The Daily “imagine your readers are as smart as you are.”

Daily editor Jesse Angelo did not return a request for comment.

— Zeke Turner

ARRIVAL, DEPARTURE: Joshua David Stein — he of the wandering freelancer’s byline — will be settling down at Departures in American Express Publishing headquarters on Avenue of the Americas next week as a senior travel editor. “I am going to ride my pony into the Hippodrome,” he said. But first he’s going skiing in Utah. “I’ve never been skiing so I might, uh, die,” he said. He was speaking over the phone from home last Wednesday after eating a plate of midafternoon crepes. Stein succeeds Andrew Sessa, who left the magazine to become the managing editor of West Elm in December.

Stein wrote the cover story of the November/December issue of Departures about the Lambs Club. After the story ran, he bumped into editor in chief Richard David Story at a benefit for the Bocuse d’Or at Daniel Boulud’s restaurant on East 65th Street. The two were friends from a lunch date at The Standard months earlier. “He’s a funny and fun e-mailer,” said Stein. Story said he wanted to talk to Stein about a position at the magazine that was opening up, Stein remembered, “and I said ‘F–k, yes.’”

Stein’s first charge will be to redesign the magazine’s Blackbook section in the front. He said he enjoyed the magazine’s “abstract intellectual side,” which allows it to do more stories about “journeys” and fewer articles about the “10 best honeymoon beaches” because it doesn’t have to worry about newsstand. Stein said he has been a fan of Departures “as long as I’ve had an AmEx platinum because you can’t get Departures without that.”

— Z.T.

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