Passive-Aggressive Notes From the Online Staff at Newsweek

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Photo: Jed Egan, Daily Beast, Newsweek

Newsweek.com staffers were none too happy after reading this weekend's article about the NewsBeast merger in the New York Times. In the piece, which tells the saga of the Daily Beast–Newsweek merger in romantic comedy terms, IAC's Barry Diller makes it clear that his primary motivation in accepting Newsweek owner Sidney Harman's advances was the size of the man's printing press. The website's award-winning online staff, however, who managed to attract more readers than the magazine, even as their ranks dwindled, get nary a mention. Considering that Newsweek.com gets 5 million unique visitors per month — more than double the Daily Beast's fast-growing 2 million — this line, from the hybrid publication's new CEO, Stephen Colvin, had to sting: "Newsweek.com will cease to exist after the merger. Readers who type that URL into their browser will be redirected to TheDailyBeast.com." And so, in what has become Newsweek.com's protest platform of choice, the website's remaining eighteen staffers took to Tumblr to, rather compellingly, state their case. NewsBeast management, ya burnt!

SaveNewsweek.com's as-yet anonymous authors start with a sour taste in their mouths — "It’s always nice to wake up and find out in the Times that your job is doomed" — and then go on to explain why:


While high-level print editors were taking sleek black towncars to and from the office (and everywhere in between, including, on at least one instance, from D.C. to New York), this was a staff who slept on grimy couches while reporting on the road; forking out their own funds, at times, just to produce good work. The disparity in work hours, in pay, in resources — it was comical. And it was only telling that not so long ago — let’s say five years — one high-level company executive had to be corrected about the website’s URL: no, Newsweek.com wasn’t the same thing as the internal Newsweek intranet.

Beyond their personal stake in the merger's outcome, the tumblr's authors pose some piercing questions about how ceding the website's brand to the Daily Beast will affect the 60 percent of those 5 million unique visitors who come from backdoor sources like partnerships with MSNBC and Newsweek twitter.

Mark Coatney, Newsweek's former social-media guru, who started the magazine's own feisty tumblr earlier this year to respond to advice about the company's future, reblogged the post, adding, "Paging management at the new Newsweek/Daily Beast: In which your Newsweek.com staff turns to Tumblr to make an excellent case for why the site deserves to continue." Coatney, who now works as Tumblr's media evangelist, has a vested interest in stressing the platform, but the imprimatur of someone familiar with internal operations emphasizes the validity of their concerns.

This must be the seemingly-insurmountable-obstacles part of the rom-com. Let's hope they reach their romantic crescendo all the wiser for the self-discovery during their time apart.

A Defense of Newsweek.com [Save Newsweek.com]
Newsweek’s Printing Press Was a Top Draw for Diller [NYT]