The first issue of Newsweek under Tina Brown's stewardship hit stands yesterday, and the response has been... not great. Brown has one of the longest résumés in New York media, having served as editor of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Talk, and The Daily Beast, and spectators were itching to see what she'd do with the foundering general-interest mag. Now the reviews are in, and one imagines they're not what Brown was hoping for.
"This is a meal that a homeless person would walk away from," writes Slate's Jack Shafer, in one of the most acerbic critiques. "Where's the gusto? Where's the transgression?" he wonders--and where, he adds, is the timeliness? In a week that featured "the Arab world spinning apart, political insurrection visiting Capitol Hill and the state houses, and the NFL going on sabbatical," Brown instead devotes 16 pages to a feature, "150 Women Who Shake the World," that synergizes nicely with the "Women in the World" summit Brown is spearheading in New York this week. "I expected a lot more from her," Shafer writes ruefully.
Maybe that's the problem--the curse of high expectations. Most critics eschew Shafer's slash-and-burn approach, but among many there's still a sense of being underwhelmed. Brown's debut comes "with remarkably little fanfare," writes James Covert at the New York Post, and the long-awaited issue "looks like a rushed-out work in progress." At The New York Times, Jeremy Peters writes that "what landed on newsstands and in subscribers’ mailboxes on Monday is a magazine that looks and feels little like the old Newsweek but preserves enough of the familiar weekly news magazine format that it will probably not offend Newsweek’s more purist readers." Choire Sicha at The Awl jokes that "it's like soaking in a nice warm bath of a comfortable yesterday--a happy, mature place of sort-of kind-of powerful people (the kind of people who have 'power' at Michael's restaurant, or certain overpriced bistros in D.C.)."