Tina Brown is a magazine editor once again. With a “coffee-mug toast” on Tuesday, The Daily Beast and Newsweek finally consummated their long-anticipated merger that both sides hope will benefit two respected but money-losing brands.
The new company, combining a feisty news and opinion site and iconic print weekly, will be a joint venture called, awkwardly, The Newsweek Daily Beast Company. It will be owned equally by Barry Diller, IAC chairman and backer of the Beast; and Newsweek owner Sidney Harman. Each side will provide two directors, including Diller and Harman.
Talks of a merger began to bubble soon after Harman, an aging audio industry pioneer, three months ago took the money-losing Newsweek off The Washington Post Co.’s hands for $1. The negotiations stalled in October when Harman and Diller couldn’t agree on control issues.
At least on paper, those issues seem to be resolved. Under the new structure, former Vanity Fair and The New Yorker editor Brown will be editor in chief for both properties and Stephen Colvin, president of the Beast, the JV’s CEO.
Brown, on her Web site, wrote of benefits for both entities in the union. “Working at the warp-speed of a 24/7 news operation, we now add the versatility of being able to develop ideas and investigations that require a different narrative pace suited to the medium of print,” she said. “And for Newsweek, The Daily Beast is a thriving frontline of breaking news and commentary that will raise the profile of the magazine’s bylines and quicken the pace of a great magazine’s revival.”
Still, it remains to be seen how a merger of two struggling media properties will lead to a financially stronger, single entity. The 1.6-million-circ Newsweek has had steep revenue and circulation losses in recent years, and since the sale has lost a significant number of top editorial staffers, including editor Jon Meacham, Mark Miller, and Fareed Zakaria.
At the very least, while Newsweek, which has been without a top editor for months, could use Brown’s star power and her growing roster of editorial talent, the Beast could benefit from the ability to offer advertisers an integrated print-digital buy.