Meet the Newsweek Daily Beast Company

50-50 Joint Venture Makes Tina Brown a Magazine Editor Once More, but What Happens After the Honeymoon?

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NEW YORK ( -- It's the Newsweek Daily Beast Company.

The agreement to merge the 77-year-old Newsweek with the 2-year-old Daily Beast was announced this morning, a month after the parties told the world that the talks were dead and three months after Sidney Harman struck a deal to take Newsweek off the Washington Post Co.'s hands.

"Some weddings take longer to plan than others," said Daily Beast editor in chief Tina Brown, now also editor in chief of Newsweek, in a post describing the changes. "The union of The Daily Beast and Newsweek magazine finally took place with a coffee-mug toast between all parties Tuesday evening, in a conference room atop Beast headquarters, the IAC building on Manhattan's West 18th Street. The final details were only hammered out last night."

"Today, we look at print from the refreshed point of view of an expatriate who sees the old country with new eyes," Ms. Brown said later in her post. "That will create a great new creative energy -- just as on the business side, it offers a superb dual marketing platform."

The Newsweek Daily Beast Co., a 50-50 joint venture between Mr. Harman and IAC, will begin with four directors: Mr. Harman, who takes the title of executive chairman; IAC Chairman-CEO Barry Diller; and two more, one from each side. Stephen Colvin, president of the Daily Beast, was named CEO of the Newsweek Daily Beast Co.

"In an admittedly challenging time, this merger provides the ideal combination of established journalism authority and bright, bristling website savvy," Mr. Harman said in a statement. "I like partnering with Barry Diller, and I look forward to building our company with Tina Brown and Stephen Colvin."

Tina Brown
Tina Brown Credit: Nancy Kaszerman has more traffic
There are now, however, plenty of new questions to answer. and Newsweek's weekly print edition may well entice marketers looking for a multiplatform buy, but Newsweek already has a website -- one with more traffic than the Beast, according to Compete. Online ad inventory doesn't necessarily translate into tremendous revenue, but more is usually better than less.

The Beast's site, of course, will benefit from promotion by Newsweek. Promoting Newsweek on the Beast may also help paid circulation at the magazine, although the more certain benefit there will come from Ms. Brown's installation atop the editorial masthead. But Newsweek will still be a print weekly organized around the news, a category of magazine that has been hit even harder by the web than most magazines; wedding a web startup doesn't automatically change that dynamic.

At Newsweek, Ms. Brown succeeds Jon Meacham, who left as the magazine was sold, and she is likely to tear up Mr. Meacham's relatively recent redesign of the magazine. Her new role at Newsweek should also help the magazine secure a new look from advertisers.

It remains to be seen how the marriage works once the honeymoon is over. Back when the deal seemed dead, Ms. Brown seemed to think that walking away was the best idea. The "complexities" of Newsweek's "infrastructure, legacy and our desire to stay nimble ultimately made this not the right decision at this time," she said then in an email to The New York Times.

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