The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Tina Brown + Newsbeast = Profit?

Posted on | May 17, 2011 | 7 Comments

Tina Brown, empress of the recently merged Newsweek/Daily Beast, tells Joe Pompeo of Yahoo that her operation will be profitable at some point “in the next two to three years.”

Mark your calendars, then: Newsbeast will be in the black by May 2014 at the latest. According to Tina Brown, that is.

Do you trust Tina Brown? Jeff Bercovici of Forbes suggests you keep a few grains of salt handy, noting that Brown appears to be moving the goal posts: In October 2010, she told the Wall Street Journal she expected Newsbeast to reach profitability within two years. She has thereby pushed back the projected profitability point by 18 months.

More grains of salt, reminding you what I wrote as soon as the merger was announced last November:

Looking through the history of Ms. Brown’s career – Tatler, Vanity Fair, New Yorker, Talk — it’s hard to resist the suspicion that Newsbeast (or whatever the resultant hybrid is called) will be mainly about celebrities, both as subjects and as writers.
The investors can expect to lose a crapload of cash in the process. The New Yorker reportedly lost $42 million in three years (1995-97) under Ms. Brown’s editorship. Talk lost an impressive $80 million during its two-year existence. Whatever else you might say about Tina Brown, she’s undeniably brilliant at convincing investors to lose money on her projects.

Brown’s business model is obviously the same as Arianna Huffington’s: An updated online version of the old reliable pump-and-dump. Carve out a slice of online readership, then sell those “eyes” to some larger entity.

Arianna sold HuffPo to AOL. To whom will Tina sell Newsbeast?

You want to invest in a New Media project? Just hit my tip jar.


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