Skip to comments.Newsroom Roil Is Tina's Beast of Burden (Dinosaur Media DeathWatch™)
Posted on 05/23/2011 5:20:23 PM PDT by abb
When word spread that the legendary Tina Brown was going to take over as editor of Newsweek, merging it with her news and aggregation site The Daily Beast, it did wonders for morale at the moribund magazine. Initially, a lot of us were really excited, says one recently departed editor. The attitude was, Tina Brown was coming in to save Newsweek. But now, three months into her reign, current and former staffers describe a newsroom in a constant state of turmoil, uncertainty, and confusion.
On the eve of Newsweeks relaunch in March, Brown sought to distance herself from past extravagances, most notably the famously star-studded Talk launch of 1999. But old habits die hard. She literally will order up double what she needs, so the cutting-room floor is getting very cluttered, says one recently departed Web staffer. She has no idea of the ripple effect of the process.
Its not just disaffected Newsweek vets doing the grumbling, either. The novelist Tobias Wolff was asked to write a story for the magazine. But Brown published a similar piece by Jonathan Chait instead and offered to run Wolffs online. I wouldnt have worked so long and hard on something for it to run only on The Daily Beast, says Wolff.
Brown, who was on vacation and unavailable to comment, is apparently somewhat self-aware. In one exchange overheard by a current staffer, she recently blew into the office and casually remarked, Oh, Im causing all sorts of trouble. Im changing all the features in the last hour! This is classic Tina. But while she might have gotten away with her high-flying style at The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, shes now operating with much less financial leeway. Before he died in April, owner Sidney Harman is said to have told people he could only afford to spend $40 million on Newsweek over three years.
Merging two newsrooms with distinct cultures hasnt made things any easier. Staffers complain that its still unclear who is in charge of what. Browns managing editor, Brekke Fletcher, quit in May after five months. Her jobamong other thingswas trying to meet Browns constantly changing story demands, people familiar with the situation say. You could see her running ragged, says one current staffer. Fletcher didnt respond to requests for comment. But media pundit Howard Kurtz, whom she recently hired as Washington bureau chief, got on the phone to defend her, calling Brown a high-energy editor whose nonstop pace can be dizzying but who brings a dynamism to the newsroom. I think Tina has a realistic sense of how to turn this ship around with the resources she has, he says. CEO Stephen Colvin tells Adweek that after just two months, advertisers are returning to Newsweek, subscription renewals are up, newsstand sales are up, and traffic on our two-year-old websiteThe Daily Beastis at record levels.
Indeed, two months after Brown unveiled her new Newsweek, even her detractors admit that the magazine is a better-looking, more invigorated read. I havent counted her out, said one editor who, despite the sentiment, no longer works for her.
I have a friend who was a full time writer at The New Yorker when Tina took over and began her disastrous career in publishing. He was kicked out, presumably for not kowtowing low enough to her—and not being liberal enough, although he was pretty liberal from my perspective.
She is truly horrible. I actually feel sorry for the folks at Newsweak. Well, almost.
CrapWeek is still in business?/
I wouldnt have worked so long and hard on something for it to run only on The Daily Beast, says Wolff.
‘only’ on the lowly and dreaded Internet, he means.
This is the arrogant, foolish and ultimately stubborn attitude of the dinosaur media, rather than going to where the eyes of the readers are, they firmly stand their ground as the comet approaches.
Tina Brown Recruits Simon Schama to Write for Newsweek, Daily Beast
Mormon Media Observer: The future of journalism
Just scrape some copy from the old Pravda and Der Stürmer. Throw in some cave drawings from Lascaux, France. And print the pages on airplane glue. Newsweak readers won’t notice the difference.
A Hippocratic oath for the internet
France Puts Internet on G-8’s Agenda
Ha! It’s amazing anyone would think that Tina Brown would save their publication! Incredible!
Newsweak is still dying? Absolutely Fabulous
I find this alarming. There is too much trust for progressives out there. From your first link:
=============There have been many attempts to craft bills of rights for the net, from the Association for Progressive Communications, to a group of Chinese intellectuals, to the Internet Rights and Principles Coalition, to the Brazillian Internet Steering Committee, to the Facebook users who wrote a set of social rights. There is much good thinking there.=============
Particularly the first two. The URL for the second group no longer exists, but it does say “human rights” in the URL. I looked into the second group; APC. Who funds them?
(Open Society Institute)George Soros, the far left Ford foundation, and a bunch of feminist and humanist groups.
Now, they’re all talking about human rights and freedom, and a host of other things. But one thing that’s become incredibly clear is that progressives use words differently than others do.
By far the biggest example is “democracy”. And the most recent example of all this is egypt. What you and I think of when it comes to “democracy” is nothing like what we’re getting in Egypt, and if you’ll note, there isn’t exactly a huge movement of progressives screaming bloody murder over what’s happening over there. They don’t mind it, because it’s leading into a big government structure.
The same thing is largely to be said about the phrase “human rights”. I regard that phrase to be as dangerous as “social justice”.
I’m more inclined to support individual rights, which no real progressive would ever support. They’d likely be alarmed at such a proposition.
I’ve read Jeff Jarvis for several years now. He is a screeching liberal and was a Hillary booster in 2008.
However, he does “get” the internet and often opposes the dinosaurs (NYT, Networks, LATimes, etc) etc when they say the ‘net shouldn’t be “allowed” to disseminate news. He understands the power of it and sees the huge impact it has had and will have in the future.
Unfortunately, he still has that liberal mindset that if only the right policies are tried, government could be a benign servant.