Monday, March 07, 2011

Be still, my heart, the veil of secrecy lifts from "The New Newsweek"


Ohmygosh, is Harvey Weinstein the face of
The New Newsweek? Holy media muck, Batman!

by Ken

Ever since it was announced that the new Newsweek ownership was turning the magazine over to Ms. Tina Brown, to function as a sort of print offshoot of her Daily Beast webzine, two of the most closely guarded secrets in North America have been: (1) when The New Newsweek would debut, and (2) what the heck The New Newsweek would be. Recently word filtered out that the date on which Everything Would Be Changed would be March 7. Meanwhile, as to the sort of content producers and produced content to be expected in it, we've been getting glimmerings from the steady drip-drip-drip of supposedly high-profile talent acquisitions Ms. Tina has been revealing -- not just for the Daily Beast now, but for the new hybrid, er, Online-Offline Media Agglomeration (OOMA).

Most recently I made not very gentle fun of the latest pair of trophy hires I've heard about: the disgracefully lazy, dishonest, and seemingly not very bright Village media megastooge "Howie the Hump" Kurtz and that hard-charging legend in his own mind Andrew "You Can't Be a Professional Whore Unless You Can Get Someone to Pay You" Sullivan. Talk about media star power! Gadzooks, I'm blind!

The Hump, you'll recall, after spending his career at the Post as a Village slut for basically media chump change, has dreams of finally making intellectual corruption pay (he wants to be "more of an entrepreneur online"). Whereas our Andrew . . . well, I think this can be rendered only in his own words:
The chance to be part of a whole new experiment in online and print journalism, in the Daily Beast and Newsweek adventure, is just too fascinating and exciting a challenge to pass up. And to work with media legends, Barry Diller and Tina Brown, and with the extraordinary businessmen Sidney Harman and Stephen Colvin, is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Well, today is March 7, and it turns out that this is indeed the big day. The on-sale date, not the cover date, which is March 14. The March 7 issue is the end of Newsweek's Ancien Régime, the one that, reports NYT "Media Decoder" blogger Jeremy W. Peters, through that issue "had 47 percent fewer ad pages than it did during the same period in 2010, according to the Media Industry Newsletter." You'll be cheered to learn that Vol. I, No. 1 of The New Newsweek --
contained greater mix of advertising categories, including high-end retailers like St. John, the woman’s clothing maker, and David Yurman, the jeweler. Ms. Brown’s magazines -- she edited Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Talk -- always drew luxury advertisers.

More importantly, though, Ms. Tina has finally had to lift the veil of secrecy from her content lineup. And Young Jeremy (he is young, wouldn't you assume? otherwise what's his excuse?) has three names for us. I hope you're sitting down, with emergency medication handy if appropriate. Okay, let's do it. Gently now, Jeremy. Don't, like, just go dropping bombshell-type names on us.
March 7, 2011, 2:13 PM

Familiar Bylines Grace Tina Brown’s Newsweek


Harvey Weinstein. Leslie H. Gelb. Kathleen Parker. [Oh man, it's the heavy artillery! Jeez, Jeremy, I asked you not to do that. -- Ken]

Tina Brown reached for some of the more well-worn cards in her Rolodex to find authors for articles in the debut issue of her newly redesigned Newsweek, which hit newsstands Monday.

Ms. Brown, one of the most connected editors in America, has long relied on her friends in political, entertainment and diplomatic circles to contribute to her magazines and her Web site, The Daily Beast. Reporters who work for her know that she is famous for digging into her address book to give out home phone numbers for boldface names who might be good sources.

In the new Newsweek, Mr. Weinstein -- the high-powered film producer and Ms. Brown’s former boss at Talk magazine -- wrote the new back page feature called “My Favorite Mistake,” in which he describes turning down the opportunity to buy the film rights for best-selling novel “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

Mr. Gelb, a former New York Times columnist and high-ranking American diplomat whom Ms. Brown recruited to write opinion pieces for The Daily Beast, has a Newsweek piece on the revolts in the Middle East and North Africa.

And Katheen Parker, another Daily Beast columnist who recently and awkwardly left her job as co-host of a CNN show with Eliot Spitzer, wrote about feminism in the context of the current Arab uprising.

Ms. Brown and her staff kept the plans for Newsweek’s redesign close to their vests. But they had been showing off a prototype of the new magazine to advertisers, which appeared to respond with some enthusiasm. The March 14 issue had noticeably more ad pages than recent issues of Newsweek.

Oh, fer cripes' sake.

There's more, but let me give you a moment to digest this much. That's one heavy dose of Beltway bloat and media morass.

Now you're probably asking, what about the look and feel of The New Newsweek? You probably want to know about the paper stock, for example, and how big the pictures are. And maybe even a word or two about the, you know, articles. Do you have anything for us, Young Jeremy?
Apart from new advertisers, what landed on newsstands and in subscribers’ mailboxes on Monday is a magazine that looks and feels little like the old Newsweek but preserves enough of the familiar weekly news magazine format that it will probably not offend Newsweek’s more purist readers.

The paper stock is thicker and glossier. There are references throughout promoting content in The Daily Beast, which the magazine explains is “Newsweek’s website.” There is a feature called “Connecting the Dots,” an idea that came from Sidney Harman, who purchased Newsweek from the Washington Post Company last year. Mr. Harman is fond of using the phrase to explain what he believes Newsweek’s mission to its readers should be.

Newsweek now prints far more — and far larger — photos than it used to. The new issue has several two-page photo spreads. A new section toward the front of the magazine, called NewsBeast, provides commentary on events from the previous week. The magazine’s famous “Conventional Wisdom” column now appears there.

The bylines in the new Newsweek weren’t the only thing that had a ring of Tina Brown déjà vu to them. For the cover, Ms. Brown chose Hillary Rodham Clinton, who also graced the cover of Ms. Brown’s debut issue of Talk. The subject matter of the accompanying articles is quite different. For Talk, Ms. Clinton discussed the possible psychological origins of her husband’s infidelity. In Newsweek, the story emphasizes Ms. Clinton’s status as an emerging world leader.

Did somebody say "déjà vu"? As in "all over again," as Yogi would say?

Ms. Tina herself has an introductory piece called "A New Newsweek," accompanied by the, er, visual rendering at left. I bet the editor who plunked that in there is going to catch hell from the boss! Oh, wait.

I don't suppose Yogi made it into The New Newsweek. If you find one in your mailbox, let me know. Or I suppose you could buy one at your newsstand, if you're that worked up about it. If you do, be sure to let us know if you're feeling as if your dots are connected.

In fairness to Ms. Tina, she couldn't have kept all this secret forever. Could she? It's something to think about.

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At 5:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is ruining magazines a religious calling?

At 7:45 AM, Anonymous timr said...

my 25 years of reading Newsweek ended when my subscription expired in Jan 2011.
However, to my surprise, I continue to get a copy every week. Going on 2 months now of free copys of Newsweek.
I stopped getting Time-45 years-when my last subscription expired in 2009.
Stopped getting US News(have been totally unable to get a refund of my print subscription), so now the only newsmagazine that I get is The Economist. Which I know is conservative, but reports news from all over the world.
I used to spend about 10 hrs a week reading all 3 news magazxines, trying to discern what the objective truth was from 3 different versions of spin. I am tired of doing that.
Have only been a computer user since 2004, before that totally relied on newspapers-Detroit Free Press(home delivery) and the Traverse City Record Eagle(daily home town paper) and the 3 newsmags for my news. Aside from the fact that I worked either midnite of afternoon/evening shift for 28 years so never watched any network news, I felt that with my local NPR news radio + newspapers+ newsmagazines that I was reasonably well informed. Now I get my world(and american) news from Korean/Japanese and Chinese TV-via DISH-and continue to ignore corporate american TV, and my computer. I still feel that I am well informed

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous VJBinCT said...

Wow! with two-page spreads, you may expect gate fold spreads eventually. Can you imagine a semi-clad Hosni Mubarek as 'News Pet of the Week'?

At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tina Brown is a fraud, and has been since she and her husband snuck into the U.S. a few years ago. I predict she will once again prove a spectacular failure. Go home, willya? A phony snob with an English accent...whocoodanode?


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