The Newsweek Daily Beast Co. has put a new financial chief in place as it tries to erase losses at the recently combined newsweekly and upstart website. Gary Starr is the new CFO, Adweek has learned. He replaces Jennie Tse Wang, who is leaving the company.
Starr comes from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where he was senior vice president of finance. Before that, he spent 10 years at Time Inc. Starr is the second recent refugee to go from Martha Stewart’s company, which recently hired advisors to seek potential investors or a buyer, to Newsweek Daily Beast, following Rosanne Lufrano, who was named vice president of digital earlier this month.
Starr comes aboard as the merged company says it’s seeing momentum on the advertising front, pointing out that the Sept. 5 issue of Newsweek has 27.4 ad pages, versus 11.6 in the Sept. 6, 2010 issue. For the first half of the year, during which Beast editor Tina Brown took over editing Newsweek and introduced a splashy redesign, single copy sales increased 2.8 percent while overall circulation declines tapered off at 5 percent.
Those gains are coming off years of declines, though, and many ad buyers are still taking a wait-and-see approach toward the publication. Ad pages fell more than 50 percent from 2007 to 2010, and dropped 27 percent in the first half of 2011 as well, even compared to the previous year, which had been soft because the publication was on the market. In 2010, while still under its previous owners, The Washington Post Co., Newsweek also cut its rate base—the circulation figure promised to advertisers—from 1.9 million to 1.5 million.