New Details Emerge on Newsweek-Beast Merger

105705665 0 New Details Emerge on Newsweek Beast MergerTina Brown met separately with the staffs of The Daily Beast and Newsweek today, just hours after a merger between the two very different publications was completed. Details of the combined entity, to be known officially as The Newsweek Daily Beast Company, are beginning to emerge.

The Observer broke the news last night that the deal was a go, in the form of a 50-50 joint venture between Beast boss Barry Diller and Newsweek‘s new owner, Sidney Harman. Employees of both companies learned of the agreement through the press, and Ms. Brown, who will edit the new outfit, posted a little before midnight from Beast headquarters that the deal had been celebrated with a coffee-mug clink.

(Disclosure: I worked at Newsweek until Oct. 29.)

Reactions from staffers in both camps is understandably mixed, from giddy to relieved to aghast to—they’re journalists, after all—just plain curious. Here, according to several people present at the meetings, is some of the guidance they’re getting from top NewDailyBeastCo brass. A caveat: this isn’t a guarantee of what will happen; it’s what editorial staffers are being told will happen. With details scarce, some are filling in the blanks for themselves.

  • Ms. Brown has no set editorial vision of what she wants the new combined publication to be. She’ll be talking to friends and is open to ideas.
  • With Newsweek CEO Tom Ascheim out, the new company’s chief executive will be Daily Beast president Stephen Colvin. 
  • newsweek.com and thedailybeast.com will merge, almost certainly under The Daily Beast’s banner. Newsweek digital staffers—freaked out because their operation wasn’t mentioned once during their meeting with Ms. Brown—are worried that they will be made redundant.
  • The two newsrooms will merge—staffers think—in Newsweek‘s new space at 7 Hanover Square, where the magazine is set to move next week. And they’ll look at moving again once the company is profitable, Mr. Harman said—something he doesn’t expect for two to three years.
  • Newsweek‘s international editions will continue to publish.
  • There will be layoffs. “It would be unsafe to assume that there will be none,” Mr. Harman said. He wouldn’t speculate about numbers, or where the cuts would come from.

nsummers@observer.com | @nicksumm