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Newsweek Staff Gutting to Continue With Buyouts?

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Between financial instability and a change in ownership, Newsweek has lost a number of its top journalists over the past year. But now talk is spreading that future publishing partner The Daily Beast plans to further gut the staff by offering buyouts.

Newsweek owner Sidney Harman agreed late last year to merge with the IAC-backed news and commentary site in a joint venture. The deal hasn’t closed yet, and it’s not clear when it will.

But Beast founder and former Vanity Fair and Talk editor Tina Brown, who has been named editor of the merged company, is already making her mark on Newsweek, ordering up stories and quietly making new hires, leading some there to feel like the union is more a takeover than a merger.

“Everyone is sitting around waiting for the buyout money,” one staffer said anonymously. “The place is like a ghost ship [with] nobody at the rudder. Beast people aren't running it yet, and Newsweek people have mentally checked out.”

The combined venture seems to have reason to act soon. Harman agreed to keep most of the magazine’s 300-plus employees after the sale by The Washington Post Co. The Post Co. agreed to pay severance costs for Newsweek employees who weren’t kept within a year of the sale.

Staffers were told they would get four weeks per year served, with all getting a minimum of four months’ pay regardless of time in.