Struggling though it may be, Sidney Harman was deeply enthusiastic about his role as co-owner of Newsweek, and he said recently he was willing to spend $40 million on it. But after news of his death Tuesday at age 92, speculation is turning to whether his heirs will share that commitment.
Robert Barnett, Harman’s lawyer, was adamant about the family’s desire to keep Newsweek going, although he said it was too early to say what ongoing financial support would be provided for the publication, which merged with The Daily Beast earlier this year.
“The Harman family has said they’re totally committed to Newsweek and will be half-owners of Newsweek and will continue Sidney’s great tradition,” he told Adweek. “They’re staying with it and are enthusiastic.”
For the immediate term, Harman’s ownership stake in the Newsweek Daily Beast Co. goes in the hands of his estate, which is expected to name a director to replace Harman. And, it’s likely that when Newsweek merged with the Daily Beast, he provided for a trust to keep its ownership stake and make ongoing payments after his death.
The succession question came up straight away after Harman bought Newsweek last summer at age 91. He leaves behind his wife, Jane Harman, who recently resigned as a California congresswoman to lead the Woodrow Wilson International Center. He had two children with her and four with his first wife. In an interview last summer, Harman said his wife would have no role at all in Newsweek but that several of his children “indicated active interest.”
A couple of the children have been involved in journalism to varying degrees. Among them are Daniel Harman, who showed up as an intern at Newsweek after his father purchased the paper; and Megan Quitkin, a onetime freelance writer who now works for the Howard Buffett Foundation, which works to improve lives in impoverished countries.