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Will Rick Smith’s Replacement Bring New Webergy to ‘Newsweek’?

Rick Smith

Outgoing Newsweek CEO Rick Smith.Photo: Patrick McMullan

Newsweek CEO Rick Smith only privately announced that he was stepping down yesterday, but Jeff Bercovici already has the memo. And you thought disgruntled ex-Journal reporters were the only things flying into Portfolio’s hands! Quoth the missive:

Effective the first of the year, I’ll give up most of my many titles and step back into the singular role of Chairman. That transition will allow me to devote more time to a lengthening agenda of corporate and non-profit board work, but also to remain actively engaged at the magazine as well.

I’ll also continue to nurture important business relationships at home and abroad and conduct the leadership interviews for the exciting Kaplan Newsweek MBA program. It’s still a pretty full plate, but I’m eager to dig in.

That sounds … fun? His replacement will be Nickelodeon’s Tom Ascheim, who “doesn’t have a traditional magazine résumé” but is an “immensely talented, broad-gauge executive” with “experience in building brands and leveraging traditional media assets on the Web.” Gawker highlights Smith’s dig at Ascheim’s experience level, but we can’t help but think that a Web-driven strategy is just what Newsweek needed. Though the magazine relaunched their Website last week with much fanfare, they’re still taking two very separate approaches to the Web and the print version, as opposed to a progressive, multiplatform strategy. “For the last decade and for the foreseeable decades to come, however, we have not one but two jobs: to produce a print magazine you are eager to read, and a Web site with daily original content that you find compelling,” wrote Newsweek editor-in-chief Jon Meacham in last week’s editor’s letter. The only thing linking the two, he says, “is our commitment to bringing you reporting, voices and analyses you cannot get elsewhere.” One would think that once Ascheim arrives from Nickelodeon, he’ll want to get to work on rethinking that old-fashioned bifurcated approach right away. Oh, and also, getting more celebrities covered in green slime. We’d like that, too.

’Newsweek’ CEO Handing Over the Reins [Portfolio]

Will Rick Smith’s Replacement Bring New Webergy to ‘Newsweek’?