The new Newsweek: Bold, or a bore?
Maverick editor Tina Brown has just relaunched the troubled newsweekly, and critics wasted no time before weighing in
The first issue of Tina Brown's new-look Newsweek hit the stands on Monday. The former New Yorker and Vanity Fair editor took over stewardship of the 78-year-old weekly news magazine following its much-debated merger with her website, The Daily Beast. So far, Brown's Newsweek retains the basic newsweekly formula while putting greater emphasis on glossy photo-spreads and big-name journalists. Her first issue's cover features Hillary Clinton — just like the debut 1999 issue of her now-defunct Talk. Will Brown's relaunch be enough to keep Newsweek essential? (Watch Tina Brown discuss the new Newsweek)
Yes. It's a mature and calm read: The new Newsweek is like "soaking in a nice warm bath," says Choire Sicha at The Awl, where "kind-of powerful people" explain the week's events to you "simply and calmly." Kudos to Brown for aiming the magazine at the mid-40s crowd rather than "gunning for 32-year-olds." And making it glossier is "probably a very good business decision.""The new Newsweek"
No. It isn't bold enough: Brown's first issue looks like a "rushed-out work in progress," says James Covert at the New York Post. The magazine's sections aren't clearly defined, and Brown hasn't made enough of her "jumble of columnists." Even her editor's letter lacked her "signature bravado." Is Brown still "haunted" by the "flop" of Talk, which closed in 2001 after only two years?"New Newsweek hits street with a whimper" And the feminist theme is a turn-off: Brown launched the magazine with a focus on "150 Women Who Shake The World," says Meghan Casserly at Forbes. To which I say, "yawn." Most of the interviewees are boringly familiar, with an emphasis on "'it' girls of the the past few months" such as Tiger Mom Amy Chua and "new AOL queenbee Arianna Huffington." Call me unsisterly, but if this is the "world according to Tina," then count me out."Women in the world: The Tina Brown edition"
It's too soon to cast judgement: We're still in the "early days," say Caroline Shin and Glynnis MacNicol at Business Insider. Brown is searching for the right balance between print and web and, at the moment, Newsweek is "essentially a print version of the Beast." It'll be interesting to see how the magazine evolves. "If there is one person in media it doesn't pay to underestimate, it's Tina Brown.""Meet the new Newsweek: It looks a lot like the old Newsweek, but with bigger pictures."
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.