Daily News and U.S. News & World Report publisher Mort Zuckerman is reportedly considering joining Politico, Reuters, Steve Rattner, and Haim Saban in the contest to see who can buy Newsweek from the Washington Post Company. Bids are due to Allen & Company, which will oversee the auction, by June 4. According to Keith Kelly at the Post, “while Zuckerman has converted U.S. News to a monthly from a weekly, and imposed major staff cuts at that title, sources said he believes he could extract major savings from Newsweek if he combined it with the mag he already owns.” It’s unclear whether Kelly means Zuckerman would make his U.S. News and Newsweek into one magazine, or merely combine their publishing operations. If it’s the latter, the plan would speak to something Newsweek editor Jon Meacham has cited as a main problem for his magazine.
“I admire TIME magazine. They’re part of a larger magazine company,” Meacham told Jon Stewart on the Daily Show recently, shortly after the WPC announced they were selling his title. “We need sources of revenue. Other magazines, they can share a back office, they can share overhead. We’ve made it as hard as possible. We’re a one-magazine company.” With a huge back office, apparently. In 2009 Newsweek made $165.5 million in revenue, but they had an operating loss of $28.1 million. Even in 2008, before the ad market had fully tanked, they made a brisk $227.4 million in revenue, yet somehow managed to lose $15.4 million over the course of the year. Zuckerman may not necessarily be the man for the job, but it’s clear that whoever ends up with Newsweek will probably have to already have an efficient media infrastructure — and a hatchet.