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The Up and Down World of Newsweek

If we had a dollar for each time we read something good about Newsweek, we’d have about $15. However, if we had a dollar for each time we read something bad about the magazine, we’d have enough money to tolerate Plunge at the Gansevoort. Despite the plethora of bad reports about Newsweek since Tina Brown took over, each is typically sprinkled with some good. This is the world of Newsweek: Up and down all the time.

Here are the good and bad takeaways from WWD’s piece about Newsweek today.

Good:

  • There are people complaining, but it’s not as bad as everyone thinks. Newsweek’s International Editor, Tunku Varadarajan, said, “Yes, there are disgruntled people, but there are many, many, many more who are not disgruntled.”
  • People are actually coming back, including Mark Miller and Dan Klaidman.
  • Newsstand sales are up six percent compared to last year.

Bad:

  • It might be time to keep a candy jar filled with Prozac in the office. Staffer quotes include, “It can be a miserable place to work,” “People are completely exhausted,” and “I don’t think you’ll find anyone who thinks the magazine is great.”
  • Newsweek/The Daily Beast lost $30 million last year.
  • Brown is (surprise!) kind of impulsive. “We see a lot of weeks where the lineup is mostly set and then she suddenly wants to move everything around — a story that’s eight pages goes down to four, and then goes back up to six… The art is suddenly different and the caption has to be changed. And, wait, now it’s four pages! And, wait, there’s a different picture.”
  • No one ever bothered to talk about what the magazine would be when Brown took over.
  • Barry Diller sometimes shows up unannounced to meetings and gives his unwanted opinion on things.
  • The magazine is, well, a bit out of touch. One staffer said, ”You’re exposed relentlessly to the truth that we’re not putting out a good magazine. I mean, Regis Philbin is our cover this week.”
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