At 57, Tina Brown — the woman who in the words of The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg “has been a celebrity since she was in college” — has a magazine again.
While Newsweek is bruised and limping, it can still lay claim to a position on the main playing field of American journalism. But for how long? Last year it lost more than $20 million; its new partner, Brown’s three-year-old Web site, The Daily Beast, lost an estimated $10 million...
Brown drives her staff at warp speed. “I’m up from 5 a.m., going online and sending BlackBerry messages out from then until I go to bed,” she said. “People get used to that. I like to have a structure of things that are in place, and then I constantly disrupt it with a new thing, an idea that’s just in the air.
“I’m not very good with people who aren’t committed,” she continued. “Kathy O’Hearn from CNN has come over to develop our Web TV. Kathy says, ‘Don’t come here unless you’re balls to the wall!’ So now we call it ‘B to the W!’ We say, ‘Is he B to the W?’ Because otherwise someone comes in and says, ‘Well, two days a week I have to teach at N.Y.U. . . .’ And we say, ‘Not B to the W!’ ”
The “NewsBeast” merger — orchestrated by Barry Diller and Newsweek’s owner, the late audio mogul and philanthropist Sidney Harman — was one of necessity for both men. Newsweek had been rudderless since Harman bought it last August for $1 from the Washington Post Company and assumed $40 million in liabilities. Diller meanwhile was in the same boat as anyone trying to make a stand-alone Web site profitable.
Ideally, The Beast would mimic the success of The Huffington Post, the Web site that Brown’s friend Arianna Huffington hawked to AOL for $315 million in February. But HuffPo has what The Beast lacks: a tribal identity, one that draws 31 million monthly visitors. With the Newsweek deal, Diller and Brown tethered The Beast to a print landmass — albeit a fairly scorched one — and avoided having to answer the inevitable question of whether The Beast by itself could ever be a viable business.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Tina Brown Is Still Hungry for Buzz
From NYTimes Magazine Profile By Peter Stevenson:
Posted by Tom Benson at 9:48 AM