The hazy future of Newsweek gained some clarity with the announcement that its owners have agreed to a merger with online publication The Daily Beast. The venerable-but-struggling newsweekly had been in on-again-off-again talks with the web start-up since magnate Sidney Harman purchased Newsweek for $1 in August. Daily Beast editor Tina Brown — who briskly transformed both the The New Yorker and Vanity Fair — will act as editor-in-chief of both publications. While some media observers question the wisdom of combining two unprofitable titles (reportedly, Newsweek lost $20 million last year and The Daily Beast is estimated to cost its owners $10 million a year), others see both sense and sizzle in the marriage:
What a beastly idea: The proposed plan — "to combine the newsrooms and the ad sales, but keep the properties independent" — could be a "disaster," says Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch. Why would a "storied publication" like Newsweek pin its fortunes on a website which is essentially "the TMZ of news"? And does it really make sense for The Daily Beast to "bet on a dying, debt-laden print magazine now"?
"The Newsweek Daily Beast will make a monstrous combination"
These publications complement each other: This deal could "conceivably" be good for both parties, says Colby Hall at Mediaite. The Daily Beast already churns out "an issue's worth of content" every day, so Newsweek's costs — and staff count — should "dissipate rather dramatically." On top of that, "the ad revenue for Newsweek is far more robust" than that of any online publication. And there's no one like Tina Brown for "re-energizing troubled titles."
"Tina Brown on the nuptial agreement between The Daily Beast and Newsweek"
Too bad Brown is a spendthrift: Congratulations to all the backers involved, says Robert Stacey McCain at The Other McCain. You are just about to "lose a crapload of cash." Back when Tina Brown ran the New Yorker, it lost "$42 million in three years." In two years, her failed Talk magazine lost "an impressive $80 million." Brown is "undeniably brilliant at convincing investors to lose money on her projects."
"The Weekly Newsbeast"
But what should we call the new entity? "Let the renaming games begin," say Steve Fishman and Adam Pasick at New York. "NewsBeast? BeastWeek? The Daily Week? The Daily News? Pretty sure that last one is taken."
"Tina Brown to run merged Daily Beast and Newsweek"
Full disclosure: Sir Harold Evans, editor-at-large of The Week, is married to Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of Newsweek and The Daily Beast