Since picking up Newsweek for a sawbuck, Sidney Harman has been casting around wildly for a life-injecting top editor. Reportedly advised by former Time topper Walter Issacson, he’s hit most of the usual suspects, including Tina Brown, Peter Kaplan, Terry McDonell, Fareed Zakaria and, yes, Walter Isaacson, himself. It’s time to get creative and think outside the box. Way outside. Following, our list of long-shot editors who might just save Newsweek.
Although we’ve laid our selections out in a visually appealing slideshow, a few extremely busy and important people don’t have the time to click through, so here is our list in highly readable bullet-point format.
- Bono: The U2 frontman and advocate for Africa — or whatever — would inject Newsweek with both star power and wimpy liberal earnestness. Plus, having served as a contributing columnist with The New York Times and a guest editor at Vanity Fair, the crooner is not wanting for journalistic experience.
- Sarah Palin: The former Alaska governor has a devout following, and Newsweek‘s treatment of Palin on its covers has been one of the few ways it’s been able to generate attention since the 2008 presidential election. Newsweek could make a big splash by bringing Palin on board, become the key print publication for Tea Partiers, and draw in a ton of new readers who’d pick up a copy just to see what the heck had happened.
- Oprah Winfrey: The multimedia titan has got her hands full, but Fortune called Winfrey’s O the most successful magazine startup in history, so she has the rare ability to make a glossy business perform.
- Al Gore: Like Bono, Al Gore cares about issues and he has some experience stewarding a media enterprise, serving as chairman of Current TV. His experience with media layoffs is a particularly attractive quality.
- James Franco: The actor has a ton of literary proclivities, and he’s been known to spin a good story into film, a tendency that could raise Newsweek’s profile considerably. A weekly Franco centerfold couldn’t hurt newsstand sales, either.
- Michael Lewis: The author of Moneyball, Liar’s Poker and The Big Short has plenty of Wall Street reporting cred and a knack for finding the human side of complicated stories, and his purview ranges from the new Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman to the Greek sovereign-debt crisis.
- Kanye West: Yo Jon Meacham, I’m really happy for you. I’ma let you finish, but Kanye West would make one of the greatest Newsweek editors of all time. Plus, Kanye has the following to double Newsweek’s Twitter presence.
- Michael Hirschorn: Currently a contributing editor at The Atlantic, Hirschorn edited Spin back when that was a thing to do. He’s also an established reality-TV producer. Notches on his belt include “Flavor Flav Goes to High School” (in pre-production) and “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF.” Hirschorn’s gift for finding an audience would be a boon to foundering Newsweek.
- T. Herman Zweibel: The Onion‘s Publisher Emeritus is fictional and was born in 1868, but those are his only handicaps. An advocate of school uniforms as a means to combat juvenile crime, protectionist tariffs and lowered taxes to solve the social security crisis, Zweibel would give Newsweek some much-needed editorial direction.