For buzz goddess Tina Brown, reviving Newsweek will be an uphill battle. As she takes over as editor, the magazine's ad pages are down 59% from last year. The budget she's working with is a fraction of the size she had at her disposal at Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, which means no more exclusive contracts with A-list writers and no more extravagant launch parties.
“We’re sort of done with that,” said Brown in an interview with The New York Times. Speaking from Newsweek's new "spare, sterile" offices near Wall Street, Brown said the magazine would have to tighten its belt.
“I think the most important thing is to prove that a year from now we’re thriving and still here,” she said. “Maybe we’ll have a little Christmas party. We have a lot of work to do.”
Can Brown change her spendthrift ways? According to the Times, Newsweek financier Sidney Harman is only giving the magazine three years to "succeed" and in that time is unwilling to lose more than $40 million on the endeavor. As a result, the new Newsweek is a lean operation with 350 employees total including the staff at The Daily Beast.
In a rare moment of optimism, Business Insider's Henry Blodget says Brown has a real shot at succeeding. He calls the magazine's recent bout of buyouts "an impressive start to cost-cutting" noting that more are likely to come:
Sidney Harman says he thinks the combined Newsweek-Daily Beast can eventually be profitable. This seems reasonable... As long as the company keeps a laser-sharp focus on costs, combines its editorial operations to build a single online and print content engine, and finds a way to make the magazine itself useful again.