Newsweek up for sale again after Daily Beast merger

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Inter Active Corp. (IAC) chairman Barry Diller said Wednesday that longtime news magazine Newsweek, which ended its print publication last year in favor of digital, was back on the auction block.

“Yeah, we’d like to,” Diller said during an All Things Digital conference interview when asked whether IAC was trying to sell Newsweek.

“I want to get back to focusing on The Daily Beast, because I think The Daily Beast has an unlimited future and it is how we started," he continued. “I got seduced into Newsweek.”

Newsweek merged with the online news site in 2010, although each continues to have its own brand.

The final Newsweek magazine hit newsstands in December featuring an ironic hashtag as a symbol of its Twitter-era transition to an all-digital format.

The second-largest weekly news magazine in the United States had been grappling with a steep drop in print advertising revenue, steadily declining circulation and the migration of readers to free news online.

“We started The Daily Beast and were the first ones to do a non-aggregation news site on the Internet, and it worked really well,” Diller said.

“We somehow got into Newsweek, this print book,” he continued. “It has taken this year-and-a-half of focus, very unpleasantly.”

The first report on the possible sale came from Variety, which quoted unnamed sources familiar with the intentions of parent company IAC.

But a staff memo circulated online from Newsweek chief Baba Shetty and editor-in-chief Tina Brown appeared to confirm the report.

“Our obligation was to turn the business around, and develop a breakthrough digital product. We’ve done just that,” the memo said.

“So why explore a sale now? The simple reason is focus. Newsweek is a powerful brand, but its demands have taken attention and focus away from The Daily Beast.”

The Washington Post sold Newsweek to California billionaire Sidney Harman for one dollar in 2010, ahead of a deal with IAC to merge the magazine with the online operation to become known familiarly as “Newsbeast.”

At the time of the sale in 2010, Newsweek had piled up more than $70 million in losses over the prior two years and had forecast more red ink. After Harman’s death in 2011, his family ended its contributions to Newsweek.

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