So Who Said No to the Newsweek Job Before Tina Brown Said Yes?

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Photo: Daily Beast, Newsweek

One of the tricky things about prognosticating the Newsweek editor search was the problem of names: Sure, there are plenty of people that new owner Sidney Harman would probably want to have in that role. There were dream candidates galore! But unlike the search for the new New York Times Magazine editor, in this case Harman had to find a candidate who was willing to take a huge risk on a crumbling brand. This was the hard part: It had to be someone young, someone who was willing to take that risk in order to earn the reputation as a "fixer" — or, and this seemed more unlikely, it had to be someone who was already successful but still felt they had something to prove. In Tina Brown he had an unlikely high-profile version of the latter: Here was a legendary magazine editor whose last foray into the field, the doomed Talk, was a colossal failure. She'd said she'd turned the page on magazines, but clearly she feels that she and the industry had unfinished business. So, problem solved. But who else was on Harman's list?

Who else had the stereo magnate approached to take over the prized-but-floundering brand? Times media writer David Carr, in a column about how all of this is probably a bad idea, lists some names:


The people who said no before Ms. Brown said yes are said by at least two people involved in the process to include (in no particular order): Peter Kaplan, former editor of The New York Observer and now at Women’s Wear Daily; Josh Tyrangiel, formerly of Time Inc. and now at Bloomberg Businessweek; Kurt Andersen, the founder of Spy and the former editor of New York magazine; Adam Moss, the current editor of New York; Jim Kelly, the former editor of Time magazine; Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor in chief of the Slate Group; Fareed Zakaria, a former Newsweek luminary now at Time and CNN; and Andrew Sullivan, the blogger and former editor of The New Republic.

What, New Yorker editor David Remnick didn't pick up the phone? Anna Wintour was out of town? This is a truly ambitious list — a list that includes people who actually fled that very magazine, or work for the company that jettisoned it. When you look at the caliber of the names here, it gives insight into how the once-dead-in-the-water deal with the Daily Beast came alive again: If this is really the target group Harman was considering (and that may not be the case — these are merely the names Carr has heard about), it's no wonder he was so keen to land Brown. There's not one young striver on that list.

Newsweek Weds Daily Beast? Good Luck With That [NYT]