It seems like a nutty idea—the idea of Tina Brown’s upstart The Daily Beast merging (an announcement is rumored to come this week) with the venerable, yet failing, Newsweek. The two-year-old Beast has yet to prove it’s a real business while The Washington Post Co. practically had to pay Sidney Harman to take red ink-drenched Newsweek off its hands.
Then again, Newsweek could desperately use an editor, even of Brown’s equivocal stature, and its staff, however diminished, could pump up the Beast’s edit team.
Which is why we put the question to media watchers: Does a Daily Beast-Newsweek matchup make any sense?
“Makes a lot of sense to me. Tina would be great at running both. If either has a shot, and they do, it’s by combining their strengths (great old brand, great new following and verve) and putting Tina on top of it.”
—Steven Brill, co-founder, Journalism Online
“I see the editorial model—sharing content between the two, leveraging some of the talent, etc.—but the business rationale completely escapes me. Put another way, arranged marriages usually end badly.”
—Bill Grueskin, professor, Columbia Journalism School
“At a minimum it makes sense in that Newsweek is apparently looking for an editor. One could argue about whether The Daily Beast is a real business or if it fits with Newsweek, but Tina Brown is indisputably a great editor.”
—Jonathan Knee, co-author, Curse of the Mogul: What’s Wrong With the World’s Leading Media Companies
“It certainly would have impact—at the very least to the media community. And by already having a strong Web site with a distinct personality, it would allow Tina, who is a very creative journalist and editor, to figure out what exactly a newsweekly should do and be these days.”
—Myrna Blyth, consultant, ThirdAge.com
“I don’t have any detailed info about this idea, but I don’t see any synergy, nor do I see a business model that has a chance at profits. Why would two money-losing businesses equal one profitable one?”
—Mark Edmiston, CEO, Nomad Editions; former president, CEO, Newsweek Inc.
“I think the overall goal makes sense for Newsweek, which is to link itself with a digital site that does a lot of original stuff and is led by someone who is as much a magician as she is an editor. And I mean that in the good way. What I can’t figure out is what they name the dang thing. Newsbeast? Tinaweek?”
—Jim Kelly, ex-Time Inc. managing editor
“Substantively, sure. Procedurally, maybe—at best. The question is: Which is ‘the’ brand? Is it Newsweek, with The Daily Beast as a channel? Is it Newsweek, powered by The Daily Beast? Or is it more of a Brangelina thing: The Daily Newsbeast? Big brands and big egos don’t merge without big obstacles and big potholes.”
—Evan Smith, CEO, editor in chief, The Texas Tribune
“I find the idea of ‘NewsBeast’ intriguing, depending on how the partners’ DNA is combined in the new creature. It reminds me of the oft-quoted anecdote about George Bernard Shaw. A famous actress facetiously suggested that they should have children together: ‘With my looks and your brains, they could conquer the world.’ Shaw allegedly replied, ‘Yes, madam, but what if they got my looks and your brains?'”
—Andrew Heyward, senior advisor, Marketspace LLC, former CBS News president
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