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The Daily Beast Marries Newsweek

By Jonah Raskin / The Rag Blog / November 16, 2010

Mergers of media giants usually attract attention in the media, and for the moment the merger of Newsweek and The Daily Beast is big news. Tina Brown is back — perhaps bigger than ever before. The former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, and the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, Brown described the merger as a “marriage,” and added that some marriages take longer than others to happen.

Brown brings a certain amount of sex appeal with her to her new job at Newsweek, as well as considerable experience in print media. But her sex appeal and her experience hardy seem enough to rescue the 75-year-old news magazine and rival of Time that is owned by Sidney Harman — now 92-years-old; it will take more than Brown to prevent the sinking of that hoary old beast, Newsweek.

It’s estimated that Newsweek will lose $20 million this year; The Daily Beast — that’s owned by Barry Diller’s Inter Active Corp (IAC) — is only expected to lose $10 million this year. IAC also owns Evite and Excite and more. Newsweek thinks that online journalism and information is the shot in the arm that it needs; The Daily Beast thinks that Newsweek will add credibility. If it’s a marriage, as Brown says it is, than It’s more like a shot-gun marriage than a marriage of true love.

In either case, no one under the age of 25 is reading either Newsweek or The Daily Beast, which is a good reason advertisers are not flocking to either of them. The marriage —or merge — between the two of them seems like an act of desperation more than anything else.

The bigger story that the merger hides is the crisis of old-fashioned print media that print media doesn’t want to face, and doesn’t want to write about. It’s one of the biggest news stories of our time, and it’s not going to go away. It’s bigger than TV or the movies or radio, and one of these days we’re going to read a news story that says “Newsweek Closes Shop.”

Jonah Raskin is a professor of communication studies at Sonoma State University.]

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