Daily Beast, 'Newsweek' To Merge

Steve Inskeep speaks with Tina Brown, who will become editor-in-chief of the just-announced merger between The Daily Beast and Newsweek magazine.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Okay, we have news of a media merger this morning. It involves a familiar voice on this program. Tina Brown is editor-in-chief of the growing Web site The Daily Beast, and she's with us once again.

Tina, good morning.

Ms. TINA BROWN (Editor-in-Chief, TheDailyBeast.com): Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: And we've learned that Tina's chunk of new media is merging its operations with one of the most venerable names in all media: Newsweek magazine, a staple of doctors' and dentists' offices for decades.

And, Tina, some people will hear that news and wonder: Why do that?

Ms. BROWN: Well, it's very exciting, Steve. This is going to be a 50/50 joint venture for the Newsweek/Daily Beast Company. The Daily Beast becomes the website, the digital operation of Newsweek. And Newsweek continues, of course, as a weekly magazine, and I shall be editing both.

It's just exciting, because it means that, really, both operations get to amplify their footprint. It means that The Daily Beast's terrific, young, vibrant team - who've really, you know, created this frontline of news and the adrenaline of a site - can actually also now take that energy and have a different rhythm when they're producing magazine articles.

INSKEEP: Although when you talk about magazines, the current owner is the businessman Sidney Harman. He bought it from The Washington Post Company not too long ago. And it was reported, Tina, as you I'm sure know very well, he bought the magazine - he bought Newsweek magazine, it was said, for $1...

Ms. BROWN: Correct, yup.

INSKEEP: ...which suggests how the fortunes of magazines have really eroded over time.

Ms. BROWN: They have, indeed. I mean, they're in a powerless condition, a lot of them. But many of them are also surging back. I've never been someone who kissed off the world of print. I simply feel that it's a different medium and has to be treated as a different medium.

The great thing, actually, about having spent two years on the Web and really taken my focus out of print, is that I'm looking, really, back at print now with kind of the new eyes of an expatriate who has been away, and now can sort of look back and see something with a very different point of view.

And, really, one can see having done so much Web news now, I can actually see what a magazine can offer, which is unique in the marketplace, as a different kind of narrative rhythm. You know, in a magazine, you can be more reflective. You can be more reconstructive. You can be predictive. You can, you know, offer a narrative that really tells you at length and depth what just happened or what just really happened.

And it plays in a kind of great syncopated rhythms, if you like, with the fast, furious instant takes of the Web. So it's a great sort of dual platform we can offer our writers, photographers, artist of all kinds, as well as our marketers, really, a kind of double hit, which I think is very exciting. And I think it's also very exciting for the Newsweek staff.

INSKEEP: Well, let's remind people that, in the past, you edited Vanity Fair magazine. You edited The New Yorker magazine. You edited a magazine called Talk, which folded...

Ms. BROWN: And Tattler magazine, which is my first magazine. This is my fifth magazine, actually. But I think of my career in publishing as "Four Weddings and a Funeral."

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BROWN: You know, we had...

INSKEEP: But...

Ms. BROWN: We had three magazines that worked, a Web site that worked, and one that didn't. So actually, I probably learned most from the one that didn't than the ones I did.

INSKEEP: But if I imagine what's happened to magazines in recent years, I would say that the articles have become shorter and shorter and shorter, and more like little Web items, really. Are you saying that you want to - having grabbed a magazine now, you want to basically go back into longer-form journalism? And do you think people will read it?

Ms. BROWN: The mistake, I think, of many magazines is to think they can compete with the Web. You just can't compete with the Web. It's a fantasy to imagine that you can sort of somehow figure out a way to kind of - to beat what - I call The Daily Beast that name for a reason, because it is - media as a beast. I mean, it is a feral animal, that you can't possibly beat its fast and furious rhythms.

But I think a magazine can offer something different. I mean, you know, you can go into length and depth on a subject that really comes at it from a wholly more marinated point of view, which I also think is very key in this culture, because we have a lot of information, but we don't have a lot of meaning. And a magazine can really bring meaning, and that I've always done with the magazines I've edited, Vanity Fair and New Yorker. You know, it's always been about not what happened, but what really happened. And that is what I think Newsweek can do.

INSKEEP: I have to ask one the irreverent or impertinent question, Tina Brown. Because the current owner of Newsweek paid $1, did you pay 50 cents to buy your share in?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BROWN: Let's just say that we all came out of this a very, very happy. You know what also makes me happy? That I'm the first woman editor of Newsweek, which is very exciting. You know that in the 1970s, the women editors of Newsweek launched a lawsuit against the management because there were hardly any women doing anything of any consequence on the magazine. And women's liberation took over and they hired the great lawyer, Eleanor Norton, and they went to battle for their rights.

INSKEEP: Wow.

Ms. BROWN: I feel that it - you know, a merger has created what the lawsuit couldn't.

INSKEEP: Tina, thanks very much for the time.

Ms. BROWN: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, and now we know, also, of Newsweek.

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'Newsweek,' Daily Beast Join With Tina Brown At Helm

Tina Brown

hide captionTina Brown will be editor-in-chief at both The Daily Beast and Newsweek.

Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

The Daily Beast online news site says it has reached a deal to merge with Newsweek magazine.

In a posting on its website Thursday, The Daily Beast's editor-in-chief, Tina Brown, says the two outlets will partner to create The Newsweek Daily Beast Co.

Brown says she will be editor-in-chief at both The Daily Beast and Newsweek. She says the deal will enable The Daily Beast to develop stories more suited to print and will increase the profile of the newsweekly's breaking news coverage and commentary.

"I see Newsweek and the Beast as a marriage between Newsweek's journalistic depth and the vibrant versatility The Daily Beast has realized on the web," Brown says in the announcement.

"The metabolism of The Daily Beast will help power the resurgence of Newsweek and Newsweek amplifies the range of talent and audience The Daily Beast can reach. The two entities together offer writers, photographers and marketers a powerful dual platform."

The joint venture will be owned equally by Sidney Harman, the 92-year-old stereo equipment mogul who bought Newsweek from The Washington Post this summer for $1, and IAC/Interactive Corp., a major Internet company owned by Barry Diller.

Brown says the deal took place Tuesday evening "with a coffee-mug toast between all parties."

The Daily Beast was launched in 2008. Newsweek began in 1933.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report

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