Now that Newsweek has been sold yet again, it’s time to examine who is at fault for its downfall. The popular target is Tina Brown. She certainly receives the brunt of a New York Times piece, which features interviews with Newsweek staffers who claim that Brown’s style destroyed the magazine. And while that’s true, Brown is not solely to blame.
Brown is famous for being irrational and chaotic. As the Times notes, she sent staffers to Paris despite there being no promise of a story. She once asked Dirk Barnett, Newsweek’s former creative director, to design 82 covers in just seven days. When she did approve covers, they were often ridiculous. Brown even claimed that she knew about Breaking Bad before anyone else at Newsweek, which sort of shows how kooky she can be.
Despite all this, it’s not her fault Newsweek failed. It is a lot of people’s fault. It is Barry Diller’s and Sidney Harman’s fault. It is the Internet’s fault. It is the newsweekly format’s fault. Nothing could’ve saved Newsweek, and a lot of people could’ve realized that and put the glossy out of its misery, but they didn’t.
Instead of taking the easy route and heaping the blame on Brown, understand that yes, she was foolish for thinking she could save Newsweek. Just like everyone else.
[Image: Keith Bedford/Reuters]