Following the announcement that the family of late billionaire Sidney Harman will no longer bankroll the Newsweek/Daily Beast Company, speculation is rife about the future of the rag he salvaged. Paying for the money-losing venture now falls to Barry Diller's IAC, so when Diller started riffing on the future of print journalism on an earnings call this morning, some media death-watchers wondered if he was declaring an end to the magazine as we know it. "The brand is good. What is the problem? The problem is, manufacturing and producing a weekly news-magazine, and that has to be solved," Diller said. That could mean an all-digital version, but not necessarily. Or at least not right away.
Diller added, "everybody is going to face the same problem. ... And the transition will happen, I believe. I'm not saying it will happen totally. But the transition to online from hard print will take place. We're examining all of our options." (Newsweek, remember, ceded its web presence to the Daily Beast after Tina Brown took over in the merger.) Diller said the company hopes to have a plan for next year by the fall: "It's going be different than it is this year," he said. "I can't tell you in what ways it's going to be different. But it will be different."
An IAC spokesperson confirmed to Daily Intel that Diller was "speaking very generally" about the state of the entire industry. "It doesn't mean that Newsweek is going to be closed entirely," she said. "We're looking at all of our options."
There's always the possibility of another sale, as long as the world still has billionaires with money to blow. But whatever's going to happen, the spokesperson said, it has not been decided and was not announced today: "He wasn't breaking news about closing an entire iconic magazine on our earnings call."