By Lesley Sillaman, Thursday, March 10, 2011, at 9:00 am.
On Monday, the new, redesigned version of Newsweek, the first with Tina Brown’s editor-in-chief stamp on it, debuted on newsstands. On NPR this week, Brown talked about how her career has come full circle, saying, “It was ironic, because I had abandoned print, having spent a life in print, and gone into the digital world. Now I understand how the two things can work together incredibly well, almost like playing in two different keys.”
Brown, the iconic journalist, editor, columnist and author (of The Diana Chronicles) was brought in to save a flagging Vanity Fair in 1984, when she was only 25 years old. After successfully reviving the publication, she moved on to edit The New Yorker with similar success. In 2008, she left the world of print journalism and founded the Daily Beast, a website devoted to bringing together the worlds of news, gossip, entertainment, fashion, opinion and literature, among other things. But now she’s back—back to print, that is. Late last year, Brown announced the merger of the Daily Beast with Newsweek, a magazine with a declining readership and a tired look and feel.
At the time, media critics wondered what the eventual outcome of this merger would be. Mashable questioned, “Will ‘Daily Beast’ Merger Save ‘Newsweek’?” while The Wall Street Journal’s Technology page pointed out the economic realities of Web-exclusive publications, stating, “[O]nline-only news organizations that produce most of their own material have generally struggled to support themselves,” and wondering aloud whether the merger was solely for the purpose of bringing financial stability to the “Beast.”
At first blush, the new magazine has a streamlined, more modern look, but some critics have questioned Brown’s choice in a cover story: a feature on the way Hillary Clinton has used her position as secretary of state to work to empower women around the world. When asked if Hillary perhaps wasn’t new news, Brown countered that the article takes a fresh look at Clinton’s largely unnoticed efforts in this area.
She further posited that online publications and their print counterparts have a natural marriage—saying that where online publications can break news quickly, print has the time to delve further into issues and investigate more deeply. While this very likely is true, the ultimate question is whether the public has lost its appetite for deeper news analysis. Will they read it? Or have we already become too accustomed to our news in an instant, on-the-go format? (Brown acknowledges that the ultimate competitor for Newsweek, and all print publications, is the abundance of media outlets from which people can choose.) So what do you think: Does she have the ability to turn around Newsweek’s fortunes?
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