Tina Brown’s Quiet Restart of Newsweek

February 21, 2011

Tina Brown, former editor of The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, says Newsweek needs to be both “seductive and serious.”
The debut of Tina Brown’s Newsweek will, in fact, look nothing like the opening of her last magazine, Talk in 1999, an extravagant exercise in self-promotion and impossibly high expectations that came back to haunt her when that magazine closed after barely two years.
“We’re sort of done with that,” Ms. Brown said in an interview from Newsweek’s spare, sterile new office space near Wall Street, insisting that the kind of A-list soirée that helped define her tenures as editor of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and then Talk would have no place at her current home, where humility and frugality are the rule.
Tina Brown, with Stephen Colvin, chief of the Newsweek Daily Beast Company, is keeping her magazine redesign top secret. 

“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,” she added in a sober tone that betrayed none of her usual sardonic wit. “We have a lot of work to do.”
It is easy to see why Ms. Brown, 57, is eager to avoid any hoopla or hype surrounding her plan to turn Newsweek around. She has not even revealed the date when her fully redesigned magazine will appear on newsstands, though one person briefed on the closely guarded and evolving plan said March 7 was the current target date.
The charge before her — breathing life into a magazine that much of the publishing world left for dead — is as difficult as any she has faced in a 35-year career that brought her recognition as one of the world’s most famous and accomplished editors.
Newsweek has been starved for advertising revenue in the last year as it has languished like a ghost ship — first without a buyer after The Washington Post Company put it up for sale in May, and then without an editor as its new owner, the 92-year-old stereo mogul Sidney Harman, struggled to fill the job. The number of ad pages in the magazine through Monday was down 59 percent compared with a year earlier, a greater drop than that for any other weekly or biweekly magazine tracked by the Media Industry Newsletter.
And there is the much larger question of whether a weekly magazine is still a viable format for delivering the news.
Publishing veterans are not focused on whether Ms. Brown can sustain Newsweek as readers have come to know it during the last 78 years. What she needs to do, they say, is create a whole new magazine from scratch.
“Whether it can be saved is irrelevant,” said Ron Galotti, the former Vanity Fair publisher, who worked with Ms. Brown at Condé Nast and left the company with her to help start Talk. “What is to be created is the task.”
The Newsweek job is not one Ms. Brown initially wanted. When merger talks between her Daily Beast Web site and Mr. Harman collapsed in the fall, Ms. Brown told her employees she felt unburdened. She framed the magazine’s troubles as worthy of Greek mythology, telling some of them that editing the magazine would have been like “rolling a boulder up a hill,” according to one person who spoke of Ms. Brown’s remarks anonymously for fear of offending her by recounting a private conversation.
Ask some of the biggest names in publishing whether Newsweek can be saved and after a long pause, they all say that if anyone can pull it off, it is Ms. Brown.
“Tina’s track record is indisputable and her talents and energies immense,” said David Remnick, who succeeded Ms. Brown as editor of The New Yorker in 1998. “The riddle of what a newsweekly should be has been in the air for many years and long preceded the incredible acceleration and obliteration of news cycles in the world of the Internet, so it will be fascinating to see where she takes Newsweek.”
Ms. Brown won acceptance to Oxford at 16. As a young writer, she caught the eye and heart of Harold Evans, the former editor of The Sunday Times of London and now her husband of nearly 30 years.
At 25, she took over the Tatler of London and quickly quadrupled its circulation. At 30, she was in New York running Vanity Fair. She supercharged the magazine with her signature high-low sensibility, which created a template for the magazine that defines it to this day. It was Ms. Brown who hired Annie Leibovitz, often at exorbitant cost, to shoot indelible images, like a naked, pregnant Demi Moore for the cover in August 1991, an issue that also featured heavier fare like an article on Saddam Hussein’s grip on power in Iraq.
Her success in reviving Vanity Fair impressed Condé Nast’s chairman, S. I. Newhouse Jr., so much, he asked her to take over his cherished New Yorker in 1992. She challenged conventions there as well, stripping the magazine of much of its stodgy feel and de-emphasizing fiction writing for long reported pieces on current events and breezy feature articles. Circulation and newsstand sales soared.
She left to start Talk in 1998, and after it folded, she hosted a show on CNBC and wrote a book about Princess Diana. She also showed an appetite for getting back into magazine editing. When Time was looking for a new managing editor in 2006, she approached people there about the job. The magazine’s leadership chose Richard Stengel, a Time veteran.
Before taking the reins at Newsweek, Ms. Brown had been editing The Daily Beast, an online media partnership she began with Barry Diller in 2008.
With the Newsweek-Daily Beast merger complete — the companies agreed to combine in November, and they officially closed on the deal late last month — she has quickly thrown herself into overhauling the magazine. She has adapted her famous, at times infamous, ways of running a staff to suit the technological and economic realities of 2011. But there is still plenty of vintage Tina Brown to go around.
Gone are the faxes that would stream from her office at all hours; she conducts much of her written correspondence on her BlackBerry these days, eliminating the need for drivers to shuttle drafts of articles to her weekend house. It is not uncommon for her senior editors to find themselves barraged with e-mail from her predawn or on weekends.
“Her energy and her capacities are stunning to me, and she is at it all the time,” Mr. Harman said in an interview. “I pull myself out of the sack in the morning and there she is talking to me on ‘Morning Joe.’ ”
Known for wanting only stories that were, in her vernacular, “hot” — she would scrawl “hot” or “v. hot” on drafts of articles she deemed the proper temperature needed to generate the buzz she sought — she now speaks of Newsweek as needing to be both “seductive and serious.”
Ms. Brown would not reveal anything about the contents of the redesigned magazine or its debut. “We’re only going to do it when we’re ready, let’s put it that way,” she said in the interview. Between answering questions, she clicked through her BlackBerry, scanning e-mail.
“I think that big, sort of theatrical relaunches tend to set you up for failure and hype,” she added. “And you know we — I — went through that at Talk magazine, and it was a mistake.”
People outside the magazine who have seen the current prototype described it as recognizable as Newsweek in name only. The paper is thicker and glossier. There are more photographs and a greater use of white space. It incorporates The Daily Beast brand in a new section called NewsBeast. Advertisers have been told the back page will be a column written by a different notable figure each week discussing a professional blunder. Joe Scarborough wrote the one in the prototype being circulated now, which Newsweek executives never let out of their hands.
“From what I saw, it’s night and day,” said George Janson, an executive with the ad buyer GroupM. “Its look, its energy is much more stylish.”
As familiar as the process of magazine reinvention is to Ms. Brown, there are notable differences this time. Financially, she has less flexibility. When Mr. Harman has spoken of his financial plan for the magazine, he has told people privately that he is giving the magazine three years to succeed and can afford to lose about $40 million in that time, several people who have spoken with him said. Anything exceeding that amount, he has said, would affect what he is able to leave to his heirs.
By contrast, Newsweek’s expenses last year ran $40 million in the third quarter alone. The operation is considerably smaller now because of buyouts, layoffs and resignations. More buyouts were offered last week, and Mr. Harman said the staff of the combined Daily Beast/Newsweek would soon be smaller than the about 350 people that Newsweek had when he bought it.
Ms. Brown also acknowledged that readers’ appetites had changed since she last edited a magazine. “You have to basically make the assumption that they have absolutely no interest in you whatsoever,” she said. “There is so little attention to spare, you have to make sure that where their window of attention is open, you’re in.”
In her previous jobs, Ms. Brown was famous for scooping up prominent writers and putting them on expensive contracts that would require only a few articles a year while preventing them from writing for competitors. She said that practice would be nonexistent at Newsweek, where she has been looking to hire more writers paid by the article.
“What we cannot have is what the old-style magazines had, where people are supported to do not a ton of pieces,” she said.
Ms. Brown has a salary in the $700,000 range, according to one person briefed on her negotiations with Mr. Harman. Mr. Harman declined to comment. That amount is not wildly high for an editor with as high a profile as Ms. Brown’s.
Holding costs down is one thing. Turning a profit is another. And Ms. Brown’s magazines have generally proven better at spending money than earning it.
The New Yorker broke into the black in 2002, four years after she left but also for the first time since Condé Nast bought it in 1985. Ms. Brown points out that the magazine’s losses had slowed significantly by the time she left.
At Vanity Fair, Ms. Brown had a reputation for spending lavishly on writers and photographers, expenses that put the magazine deeply in debt. But in her final years as editor, it began to turn a profit, though not every year, according to one person with knowledge of Vanity Fair’s business. This person spoke only on the condition of anonymity because Condé Nast is private and does not release specific financial information.
Whether The Daily Beast has been the success that Ms. Brown had hoped it would be is a matter of some debate. It initially lost about $10 million a year, but executives said that advertising had picked up in the last year and that they expected profitability “in the next few years,” according to Stephen Colvin, chief executive of the Newsweek Daily Beast Company. Unique visitors to the site have leveled off in the range of two million to three million a month over the last year, according to comScore, the Internet traffic research firm.
The task of taking two money-losing operations and combining them to try to become one profitable enterprise has struck many in the media business as fanciful. This is not lost on Mr. Harman.
“What I wanted to know was whether there was a shot at this thing breaking even,” Mr. Harman said, reflecting on his thoughts after he bought the magazine. “But I’m looking at this thing and saying to myself: ‘Son of a gun. I think we got a business here.’ My expectation is it will surely break even.”
By JEREMY W. PETERS via nytimes.com photo by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times


Newsweek about to go out of existence and suddenly concerned about religious soldiers in IDF

November 21, 2010
oh noes… the Israeli soldiers are unlikely to force Jews out of their homes again because it only caused the Arabs to think they were winning and encouraged more violence. Damn Jews… needing homes and stuff. Didn’t you know homes are racist?

With Newsweek about to merge with the Daily Beast and go out of existence, it has finally awoken to the reality that the demographics of the IDF officer corps are not from groups that are likely to want to surrender land to ‘Palestinians’ unnecessarily.

But if a peace deal is ever achieved, it would undoubtedly require the evacuation of at least some settlements—a job for the Army. Some defense analysts and former officers worry that the military’s new religiosity could lead to mass insubordination. “If soldiers decide they don’t want to participate, that’s one thing,” says Mikhael Manekin, a reserve lieutenant who co-chairs the left-wing group Breaking the Silence. “If commanders don’t want to participate, that would be much more worrying.” (Manekin says all his commanding officers were settlers during his four years of active duty.)
The threat isn’t as farfetched as it sounds. Ever since the government demolished the West Bank settlement of Homesh in 2005, former residents have kept trying to establish an illegal outpost there, and authorities have kept sending troops to evict them. A year ago, during swearing-in ceremonies for new recruits of the Shimshon Battalion in Jerusalem, several soldiers unfurled a banner proclaiming: SHIMSHON DOES NOT EVACUATE HOMESH. The military court-martialed the perpetrators, sentenced them to the brig, and expelled them from their unit. But in the weeks that followed, similar signs were displayed at two other units’ training bases.
Although the military publishes little information about the backgrounds of its enlistees, a recent issue of the defense journal Maarachot reported that in recent years some 30 percent of graduates from the infantry officers’ course have defined themselves as “Zionist-religious,” up from only 2.5 percent 20 years ago. (About 12 percent of Israelis in general choose that label.) Many of those fledgling lieutenants, along with a number of higher-ranking combat officers, were drawn from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and some are residents of outposts—smaller, makeshift settlements—established without authorization from the government.
The mere specter of widespread refusal is enough to make the government think twice before ordering evacuations, whether of settlements or of outposts, says sociologist Yagil Levy, who specializes in military trends. (The threat might explain why most outposts remain standing despite Israel’s promise to dismantle dozens of them under a U.S. initiative back in 2003.) Some analysts have suggested that the police should handle future evacuations, rather than the Army.
The rise within the military of the “knitted skullcaps” has been building for years. In the 1990s, after the controversial first Lebanon war, many liberal Israelis stopped encouraging their kids to go beyond the mandatory three years of national service. “We secular people can only blame ourselves for no longer being able to convince our kids to spend as many years in the military as in the past,” says Avshalom Vilan, a former member of Parliament from the left-wing Meretz Party and a kibbutznik.
At about the same time, more religious Israelis were concluding that their community should have played a larger role in building the country’s secular institutions decades earlier. Embracing military service more fervently was a way to make up for lost time. “The religious community has to be involved in all public institutions, not just the Army,” says Rabbi Eli Sadan, 62, at his home in the settlement of Eli, deep in the West Bank. “That’s the revolution we’re creating.” Sadan oversees one of a string of West Bank pre-military academies where rabbis teach Torah and Jewish philosophy for up to two years while preparing students for military service and imbuing them (this is where some secular Israelis get nervous) with a religious sense of mission. Most graduates forgo the option of serving in strictly religious units, mixing instead with the general population.

Read the whole thing.
Name me another country in the world where the army or police was told to expel people from their homes (in which they were not squatters) so that the homes could be given over to people who wanted to kill them. It’s insane.
Yes, the country has shifted right. There are two factors behind that. One is that the new immigrants have been mostly from the Right (both the Russians and the Americans among others), while those who leave are mostly the yefei ha’nefesh (a contemptuous way of saying ‘beautiful people’ in Hebrew) from the Left. Second, the people have seen what we got for Oslo and the ‘withdrawals’ from southern Lebanon and Gaza. We have decided we don’t want anymore of that.
You won’t hear most Israelis worrying too much about the army carrying out its orders. It’s a concern of the Leftists – just look whom Newsweek interviewed.
The picture at the top is Rabbi Avichai Ronski, who was the IDF chief rabbi until he was forced out in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead. He had the gall to encourage soldiers to believe they were on a mission from God (which they were).

it is also feeling that way in America. the secular spell of hate is over. Remnants of the stupidity is still in government, but the people have woken up to the Monoculture.


Newsweek’s Choice of Saudi King Abdallah as Respected, Democracy-Seeking Leader is a Joke

October 1, 2010

An article dated August 30, 2010 in Sobh-e Sadeq, the weekly of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), called the U.S. magazine Newsweek’s selection of Saudi King Abdallah as one of the world’s 10 most respected leaders a joke, adding that he was chosen only because of his close relationship with the U.S. It said that the Saudi regime is the most tyrannical in the world, because the country has never held a single election, the people have no role in choosing their leaders, and Shi’ites and women there have no rights. It also hinted that global terror – that is, Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban – have their roots in the tyrannical Saudi regime, and mocked the Saudi “democracy” in which the leadership changes only after the ruler’s illness or death.

To read the full report, click here.

Newsweek sold for a dollar (we knew about that)… but to the Saudis?
of course people will not consider this newspaper credible if they continue this kind of bias. Pretty sad it is Iran that has to point this out to the West