Tina Brown, former editor of the Tatler, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, is back in the print business as her Daily Beast news and gossip website is to merge with Newsweek, the venerable news weekly recently purchased by US businessman Sidney Harman for one dollar.
The new company is to be called the Newsweek Daily Beast company (which sounds a bit daft, Daily Beast being a joke name) and will be jointly owned by Harman and Brown’s backer media entrepreneur Barry Diller. Brown will be editor in chief.
Quite how much influence she will have over Newsweek’s day to day activities is unclear. Although she has a celebrated nose for a story, particularly gossip, serious news journalism has not been her metier to date.
But she brings immense pizazz and a celebrity all of her own, which won’t do Newsweek any harm.
Newsweek found itself on the block for a measly dollar (plus accumulated losses of quite a few dollars more) when the Washington Post Company gave up the ghost with the ancient rival to Time magazine.
Readers and advertisers had migrated online, an experience Brown herself had experienced to a degree when her last print venture, Talk magazine financed by the film-making Weinstein brothers, folded in 2001 three years after its launch.
But it will be fascinating to see how such an alliance between three big personalities, Brown, Diller and 92-years old Harman works out. Harman’s wife Jane, a Democratic politician, is also likely to be a factor.