Most Recent Articles In Memo PadMost Recent Articles In Memo Pad
NO DEAL: The Daily Beast and Newsweek called off talks on Monday morning on a potential merger that had the media world clucking for the last three weeks. “The engagement was fun but the pre-nup got too complex,” wrote Daily Beast editor Tina Brown in an e-mail to her staff, which confirmed a report that appeared minutes earlier on The Wall Street Journal’s Web site. “We wish Newsweek all the best.”
Just over two hours later, Newsweek chief executive officer Tom Ascheim sent a memo to his staff, which said management “remain committed to and actively engaged in the search for the best editor for Newsweek. We plan to have news here soon.” The deal certainly made sense for Newsweek’s 92-year-old owner, Sidney Harman, who would have brought in an editor in Brown who might have given the magazine renewed relevance after The Washington Post Co. sold it to him this summer for $1, plus the assumption of debt and other financial obligations. The deal also would have provided IAC chairman and Beast owner Barry Diller a partner for his Web site, which is not yet profitable. As WWD reported last week, the Beast’s traffic has fallen in each of the last four months, culminating in a six-month low of 2.2 million unique visitors coming to the site in September, according to comScore.
Newsweek sources insist there is a Plan B, though it’s not clear what that plan actually is. Editor Jon Meacham left the magazine in late August, and Nisid Hajari and Dan Klaidman continue to run the title on an interim basis.
It’s believed that someone with good magazine experience is waiting in the wings, one source said, and several people familiar with Harman’s thinking said he plans to pursue Sports Illustrated editor Terry McDonell. McDonell did not return a call for comment Monday.
— John Koblin and Amy Wicks