There were many skeptics when the 79-year-old news magazine Newsweek merged with the upstart website The Daily Beast in 2010 under the leadership of Tina Brown. Could two media outlets, both losing money, be combined into a financially sound operation?
In a recent interview with "Nightline," Brown, who is editor in chief of the joint venture, said it is well on its way to success and pushed back hard against published reports that the Newsweek/Daily Beast Company suffered $30 million in losses last year, calling such reports "excessive."
"We are certainly not losing that amount, but we aren't making money yet and we won't make money for another couple of years, but we will as long as we can build the brand back up again," Brown told "Nightline" anchor Cynthia McFadden.
Newsweek was losing tens of millions of dollars annually when investor Sidney Harman stepped and bought it from the Washington Post for $1 in August 2010. A few months later Harman talked with Brown and her business partner at The Daily Beast, Barry Diller, about forming a single entity.
Over the past year, Brown has repeatedly said this is a rebuilding time for Newsweek and that it will take a while it to redefine the brand's image and reposition it in the marketplace. She admitted that this past year has been "very difficult" because it "was all about just stopping the thing from crashing into the floor." During this past year, newsstand sales were up a healthy 15 percent, but the all important ad pages fell by almost 17 percent.
Brown is widely seen as one of the best editors of her generation, increasing sales at Vanity Fair when she was its editor in the '90s by a staggering 600 percent. She went on to redesign The New Yorker.
Asked how far along she feels she is in transforming the operation, Brown paused. "I think we are sort of 40 percent there," she said. "It seems to me that we have stopped Newsweek from failing and we are now on our way back up."
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