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Newsweek and The Daily Beast: Two Great Tastes That Probably Won’t Go Great Together

David Carr, on the imminent merger between The Daily Beast and Newsweek:

Putting together The Daily Beast and Newsweek makes little financial sense, includes not much in the way of editorial synergies — is it The News Beast or The Daily Week? — and marries two properties that have almost nothing in common other than the fact that they both lose lots of money. Other than that? A great idea. Brilliant, really. And it will be fun to watch…

“When you step back, this is not a marriage made in heaven,” said Mark Edmiston, a former media investment banker who was the president of Newsweek in the 1980s. “You have two very different owners with very different motivations…And if you leave Tina out of it for a moment, what is the model?” he added. “I don’t see how you can take two money-losing businesses and put them together and come up with a single entity that makes money.” 

According to Carr’s statistics, Newsweek is still losing $500,000 per week while The Daily Beast will lose $10 million this year.

Harman (who acquired Newsweek for $1 and $40 million in liabilities) has been looking for someone to lead the magazine for quite awhile, and The Daily Beast’s Tina Brown was originally in the running. But after reading New York magazine’s feature on the first, failed attempt at a merger between these two entities, I find it hard to believe that the most serious leadership issues have already been resolved (Brown will not report to Harman under the new arrangement).

The most baffling element of the merger? Brown will be shuttering and directing all traffic to The Daily Beast. This will undoubtedly confuse the hell out of a bunch of Newsweek visitors. In addition, she’ll be surrendering a brand/URL that has a lot of goodwill, not to mention a lot of inbound organic traffic (Newsweek gets more than 2x the traffic of The Daily Beast).

Some employees have already launched a Tumblr to plead for the preservation of their jobs and of the respected news weekly’s website. Their poignant manifesto is worth your time:

In the face of indifference, condescension and even outright hostility from its print counterpart; with little to no resources; with more high-level hires and fires over the past couple of years than anybody could possibly count—and a revolving door of editors—the small but tireless staff at consistently created editorial work that made waves: via a Website, on video platforms, through multimedia, photo and social media. Whatever happens to Newsweek, we are all proud to have played a part in that.