Newsweek has tapped Will Tacy to be executive producer and editorial director for Newsweek.com. Tacy was the managing editor, digital for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He has also worked for the New York Times and Mother Jones. Earlier this week, Minnpost.com reported that Tacy was given a buyout by the Star Tribune. According to Tacy, though he may have been listed with departing staff, the paper was already aware of his departure and he was never formally offered a buyout package.
Tacy’s appointment at Newsweek is part of what Geoff Reiss, the managing editor of Newsweek’s Digital Group, describes as a major ongoing initiative to “update” the 75 year-old brand. Previously, Tom Watson was in charge of Newsweek.com. Reiss told FishbowlNY that Watson was asked by Newsweek editor Jon Meacham to help out with the “re-creation” of the print magazine, yielding the opening in which Tacy will hopefully work a similar miracle at Newsweek.com.
According to Reiss, these efforts to “re-create” Newsweek involve no less than “reinventing it online, in print, and really reinterpereting the way it works” adding that Tacy will be a “fundamental player” in those efforts.
Like many other old media properties, Newsweek hasn’t been immune to tough times…
In November 2007, Newsweek lowered its circulation rate base, from 3.1 to 2.6 million. Print ad revenues dropped 13 percent during the first nine months of 2008 and subscription revenues are also down at the magazine. Last month, Folio reported that Newsweek execs were mulling another drop in circulation for 2009.
Newsweek’s numbers may be grim on the print side, but Reiss says that revenue at the Web site “has grown impressively on an annual basis and we have high expectations, even in a down market, for it to continue to do so.” As of press time, Newsweek was unable to provide their online revenue numbers for FishbowlNY. We’ll update this item with numbers if they become available.
Success at Newsweek.com could help offset the low numbers at the magazine. Tacy will be tasked with continuing to improve Newsweek’s performance online. Reiss joked with us that “walk[ing] on water was one of the elements in the job description.” Tacy’s new position is clearly coming with both high hopes and high pressure, though Tacy says he’s not worried because “every job in news media at this point has a lot of pressure and expectations.” Tacy also told us that he’s “incredibly encouraged by what I see as a huge opportunity for Newsweek.” We’ll have to see if Newsweek‘s optimism about its site and Will Tacy’s vision for it pays off.