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Newsweek, The Daily Beast Future Cloudy

NewsBeast has been under intense scrutiny this week since the Harman family confirmed it stopped investing in the company.

MORE QUESTIONS: Newsweek and The Daily Beast have been under especially intense scrutiny this week since the Harman family confirmed it stopped investing in the company it owned jointly with IAC/InterActiveCorp. Barry Diller, chairman of IAC, didn’t help its public profile Wednesday when during an earnings call he suggested the brand might eventually exist online only, fueling already rampant speculation about the NewsBeast’s future.

“The transition to online from hard print will take place,” Diller said. “We are examining all our options.”

To some, that signaled a sale was suddenly a possibility for the Web site and magazine. IAC launched the Daily Beast in 2008 under Tina Brown, and two years later merged it with Newsweek. Diller said that by this coming September or October IAC would have a firm plan in place for the joint venture.

“I can’t tell you in what ways it will be different, but it will be different,” he said.

In the manner of embattled publications lately, an intermal memo widely disseminated among media outlets late Wednesday clarified Diller did not mean to suggest Newsweek would go digital. “In September we would be evolving our plan for the year ’13, with many options to choose from,” Brown wrote. News Corp’s iPad app, The Daily, pulled a similar stunt earlier this month when rumors surfaced about its alleged demise. Brown, however, finished her memo with a characteristic flourish: “I am enroute to Jane Harman’s event in Aspen and I am sorry that I am not able to reassure you in person.”

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