Media Winter Redux
Update: A source calls the layoffs “a bloodbath” and estimates that half the editorial staff will be gone.
Newsweek’s print edition is ending in a matter of weeks, and the anticipated staff changes have already begun. Layoffs are expected to be announced this afternoon, a tipster tells us. Meanwhile, we hear that a few Read More
In this week’s New York Magazine, Tina Brown looks back on her zeitgeisty career and the impending demise of the print edition of Newsweek. If it isn’t the definitive account (we assume that will come later), it’s the most up-to-date account.
But as we read the seven page Q&A with Slate founding editor Michael Kinsley, we were struck by Ms. Brown’s frequent use of imagery. So very illustrative! So imaginative! We can practically see it all, from Cinderella waking up from the ball that was the Talk launch party to the refrigerators on each foot that was the print edition of Newsweek.
We have collected some of our favorites below.
As we sloshed, caked with snow flurries, into the Mandarin Oriental for the 2012 Phoenix House Fashion award dinner last Wednesday evening, we couldn’t determine whether it was the way-too-early winter outside, the Sandy-forced relocation or the early start after an endless election season, but at first glance, things looked a bit quiet. (In retrospect, we appreciated the venue upgrade, considering it was originally slated to take place at Pier 60.)
“Well there’s Linda Fargo, at least …” we uttered to a weary-eyed publicist as she sashayed passed us in a crisp black sheath dress, before we sauntered downstairs to cocktail hour.
Below, on the 35th floor, the considerably more lively and notable fashion crowd imbibed, heedless of the blizzard-like winds that howled without mercy on the commoners struggling to get around Columbus Circle.
With the exception of Glenda Bailey, this didn’t feel like a typical fashion event; nay, it was considerably more corporate—a bit cliquey, but not necessarily in a bad way. Dashing executives (well mostly dashing) in flamboyant tailored suits sipped scotch and red wine, while a more demure population of women squawked about recent highs and lows.
off the record
Is it happening again?
The bad time went by many names: the meltdown … the shakeout … the reckoning … the death of print… or sometimes, simply, “trying to freelance.”
Old-timers can still remember it—how, amid the frozen winter of 2008, the corridors of once unshakable media empires ran red with ink as the insertion orders dried up and crumbled into dust. Aeron chairs grew wet with tears. Editors were cashiered, contract writers flung overboard like chum. Soon you could see them all over Midtown: the sleek black Town Cars sitting idle on cinder blocks, rusting in the bleak unforgiving sun.
It was terrifying. The death knell—a merciless, unrelenting Twitter feed titled “The Media Is Dying”—sounded on a daily basis, sometimes hourly. Staffers watched in fear as the ghouls of HR, fingernails dabbed in scarlet, inched ever closer.
The Death of Print
Newsweek will no longer be a print magazine, Tina Brown announced in an early-morning blog post. The last print edition will be December 31, 2012.
“In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format,” Ms. Brown writes. “This was not the case just two years ago. It will increasingly be the case in the years ahead.”
The new all-digital, paid-subscription publication will be called Newsweek Global and be available for tablets and online. Select content will be available on The Daily Beast’s website. The Daily Beast, which launched in 2008, merged with Newsweek two years ago.
off the record
Newsbeast editor in chief Tina Brown seems to have developed a redemptive streak, at least when it comes to the bad boys and girls of the media world. Her website has recently published several pieces by otherwise disgraced journalists.
“God, have you ever walked into a meeting and thought, This is not going to go well?” Code and Theory founder and creative director Brandon Ralph moaned. “That’s what it was like when we went to pitch to The Daily Beast.”
Sitting with him in his 5th floor SoHo offices, it was easy to imagine what the handsome and lanky 33-year-old was talking about. The Observer had come in to meet with the man who had been hand-picked by Tina Brown, Anna Wintour, Peter Brant, and Jason Binn to create their online platforms. With long, dark, wavy hair; leather bracelets; and a penchant for John Varvatos; Mr. Ralph looked more the part of a hip New York restaurateur.
Illusionist David Blaine stopped by Newsweek/The Daily Beast for an appearance on BeastTV today. While in the company’s West Chelsea office, Mr. Blaine couldn’t resist demonstrating his powers to what we assume were wowed staffers.
Excited writers tweeted the events (with pictures). It isn’t every day that magic happens in a newsroom.
Could an era of less splashy Newsweek covers be at hand–or has the final control between Tina Brown and utterly unfiltered buzz been removed? Dirk Barnett, the creative director of Tina Brown’s Newsweek—and thus the man responsible for the Photoshopped “Diana at 50″ cover, the “first gay president” cover and a phallic asparagus that we Read More
Newsweek stunned no one this week when their most recent cover appeared on newsstands—a striking image that managed to be not only sexist, gratuitous and just plain ludicrous, but recycled. The image was a stock photo that had previously been used in several other magazines. Unsavory and unoriginal!
We say, if you’re going to go for it…really go for it. Click through to see our ideas for future Newsweek covers. Have at it, Tina.
Photo illustrations by Ed Johnson.