Following the spectacular failure of Newsweek, editor-in-chief Tina Brown will be leaving her website the Daily Beast in January, according to BuzzFeed’s Peter Lauria, a former Daily Beast–er himself. The site’s parent company, IAC, run by longtime Brown patron Barry Diller, “does not plan to renew Brown’s contract,” Lauria reports, while the fate of the site itself is undecided, with a new editor, sale, or outright closure all on the table. The high-profile divorce comes after the sale of the Newsweek brand’s bones, which left Brown to once again focus on her blog baby. While traffic is up, the site is reportedly on track to lose $12 million this year.
Brown spoke in-depth to New York about the Daily Beast near the end of 2012. Michael Kinsley asked her flat-out, “How long has Barry Diller given you?” Her response:
Barry doesn’t talk in those terms. Barry backs things that he believes in, and he’s a huge believer in the Beast. He’s always been a huge believer in the Beast. He sees it as something, which it is. He sees it as growing in leaps and bounds and believes it is going to be a very valuable property. He’s very committed to the Beast. And he’s been very supportive of Newsweek, even though it was meant to be a joint venture and turned out not to be—the death of Sidney Harman was an enormous change. […]
So the Daily Beast—
The Daily Beast is on fire. We hit 19,800,000 uniques in October.
Nineteen million, eight hundred thousand. The goal was fifteen by the end of this year, so we’re way past our goal. And we’re only in November. […]
The great thing about the Beast is that it’s an aggregated community now—all very smart, eclectic people. The last four years have really been about assembling all these talents. They file when they’re asked, and they file when they’re not asked, and they’re there for us. We grow them all the time.
But evidently not enough.
Update: "Tina’s split has been in negotiations with Barry Diller for over a year, is totally amicable, and is implemented so that she can take full business and editorial control of her venture, Tina Brown Live Media," a source familiar with the situation told Daily Intelligencer.
"Creating The Daily Beast at the original instigation of Barry Diller in 2008 has given me some of the most exciting and fulfilling years of my professional life," said Brown, who announced the news to her staff today after it leaked.
As for the site, "The Beast roars on," said executive editor John Avlon, who will oversee it with managing director Deidre Depke. "This is a time of great transition and sadness but Tina’s spirit which has invigorated the Beast, is going to live on whether she is here in the flesh or not."