On Monday, as you no doubt already know, Tina Brown and Barry Diller launched The Daily Beast, a Web site that promises to “sift” and “curate” the unruly Internet.
Ms. Brown noted in a launch Q&A that her site would not be a boring old news aggregator, since sifting and curating are very different verbs from aggregating. In that Q&A, Ms. Brown trumpeted her new staff, including, “Edward Felsenthal, our executive editor, came from the Wall Street Journal, as did our managing editor, Jane Spencer. Senior editors Bryan Curtis and Nicholas Wapshott came from Slate and the Sun, home page editor Henry Seltzer from USmagazine.com, features editor Will Doig from Nerve.com.”
Opinions came in almost immediately. Keith Kelly of the New York Post wrote, “[H]ip users could be excused for wondering what the excitement is all about. Brown was last in the public eye six years ago, when the much-ballyhooed Talk magazine closed, but not before it blew through $54 million in only 2½ years. Before that, she was editrix of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.” Deadline Hollywood Daily’s Nikki Finke said “It sucks.”
Gawker’s Ryan Tate noted, “[T]he site seemed more noteworthy for its slavish devotion to internet publishing memes than for any particular innovation.” That same day, Gawker’s Nick Denton pointed out a similarity between The Daily Beast’s white-on-red logo and that of The Philadelphia Daily News‘. (The Daily News‘ Will Bunch spotted it, too.) Radaronline.com’s Choire Sicha quipped, “Tina Brown’s Daily Beast is live. So that’s where former Vanity Fair Q&A-er Kevin Sessums has been hiding!”
Mediabistro’s FishbowlNY blogger Glynnis MacNicol praised Ms. Brown’s “very funny Q&A,” which “alone is enough to convince us it’s worth a bookmark.”
The Wall Street Journal‘s Front Lines blog called the launch “Of note.” The Guardian‘s Ed Pilkington said, “Brown has much riding on the fate of the Daily Beast.” Wired.com’s Meghan Keane wrote, “Tina Brown has found one way around the struggle for winning ad dollars in the middle of a financial meltdown — her new Web site is ad free.”
On Tuesday, Maria Russo, the Los Angeles Times‘ Web Scout blogger, wrote that the day-old site might be “the Web equivalent of the intrusive staff at some ‘luxury’ hotels, constantly bothering you with offers of help you don’t actually need. As the jet-setting Brown should know, the really high-end hotels these days have a famously ‘invisible’ staff that anticipates and fulfills your every need before you even realize they’re there.” Ms. Russo also noted, “[T]he age of contributors and subjects skews to over-45, and the sex of its contributors skews male, just as in most mainstream magazines.”
Steve Johnson, The Chicago Tribune‘s Internet critic , said, “The look is pure tabloid, blood-red and ink-black, but it’s more dynamic and less cluttered than HuffPo.”
That same day, the site posted a profile of early 21st-century film and music star Jennifer Lopez by the aforementioned Mr. Sessums. Details from the story were picked up by everyone from England’s The Telegraph to Australia’s The Age.
New York magazine’s Daily Intel blogger Chris Rovzar proclaimed: “On just its second day live, the Daily Beast has its first exclusive celebrity profile! Well, not exclusive. This morning the Website posted a feature on Jennifer Lopez by contributor Kevin Sessums, which had been previously killed by a fashion magazine because Lopez was not happy with the way her interviews went.” And Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan asked: “Which Magazine Spiked This J-Lo Profile At Her Request?”
Today, the New York Post‘s Page Six revealed that “ELLE magazine killed a touchy profile on Jennifer Lopez, but reporter Kevin Sessums got his piece posted on Tina Brown’s new Web site, The Daily Beast.” (Gawker’s Ryan Tate is relieved to finally know.)
Also on the site’s third day, Mediabistro’s FishbowlNY blogger Noah Davis pointed out in a post headlined ‘Separated at Birth’ that the logo is similar to that of The Philadelphia Daily News‘ with the quip, “We’re just saying …” In another post, Mr. Davis broke the news Nerve.com’s Will Doig had joined Ms. Brown. (Also, apparently Edward Felsenthal, Jane Spencer, Bryan Curtis, etc.)
The New York Times‘ David Carr, filing on a Wednesday, appraised the site as “relying heavily on Ms. Brown’s range of interests (from high to low, from powerful to incredibly powerful) to remain relevant enough to merit daily, even hourly, clicking.” Mr. Carr quoted Gawker’s Mr. Denton as saying “I’ll definitely read The Daily Beast … but I don’t think there are that many of me.” (This quote was picked up and amplified by PoynterOnline’s Jim Romenesko.)
Mr. Carr also noted the site’s lack of ads and quotes its editor in chief, Mr. Felsenthal, saying, “We are working on getting the tone and content right, and then we will worry about selling ads. … This is a soft launch.”