The Buzz

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When it comes to tasty Time Warner-ite takes on the deal that briefly put the phrase "AOL" in the company name, Time Inc. Editor In Chief Norman Pearlstine's pronouncement last week that it was "the worst business deal in history" counts only for the silver. (Gold goes to Time Warner Media & Communications Group Chairman Don Logan, as quoted in Nina Munk's "Fools Rush In": "You've got to be [expletive] kidding! That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life." In one of life's myriad delightful ironies, Logan now oversees America Online.) In fairness, Pearlstine, who spoke at an MPA breakfast last week, was quick to point out he didn't object to the deal's "logic" but rather its "valuation," and in any event spent little time on capital-C corporate issues, focusing instead on the magazines and the mechanics of journalism. (Remember journalism?) Time Inc., he said, was reworking its editorial guidelines-which are dated enough to contain "talk of carbons." He termed his company's Business 2.0, which has struggled mightily to escape the new economy doldrums, "quite viable." The company's U.K. lad weekly, Nuts, posted months of profitability in its 2004 launch year, he said and drolly added "it was much more upscale" than new competitor Zoo. Left unsaid: Just what, exactly does his job, you know, entail? Pearlstine remained mum. "I had a very uneasy feeling I'd have to tell you what an editor in chief of Time Inc. does," he said. There's only been five including himself, "and none of us are giving away that secret."
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