Though the debut of Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily received widespread press coverage, it was treated more as a novelty than an actual attempt at creating a viable news organization. Most tech pundits quickly dismissed it if they hadn’t already pre-launch. Bloggers gleefully listed other failed Rupert Murdoch internet ventures and a quick rundown of the newsonomics of the venture found that there’s really not much of a market for an expensively-run tablet-only newspaper. The sale of Huffington Post to AOL was met with slightly less pessimism, but few writers outright declared that the move would save AOL. Demand Media’s high IPO was met with much derision and a widespread assumption that its days are numbered.
In fact the only major launch of a news product that was met with widespread praise has been TBD, which recently disappointed everyone with the announcement that it would be laying off most its staff.
I was thinking of all this pessimism when reading this Adweek piece on the merger between the Daily Beast and Newsweek. Count me among a group — comprised of nearly everyone — who assumes the merger will fail to do anything to make either publication profitable. Given this, Adweek questions why the New York Times decided to promote the merger on its front page:
Anyone outside of New York City’s media fishbowl could be forgiven for waking up last Monday and wondering what the heck some lady named Tina Brown was doing on the front page of The New York Times. In the 21st century, Brown has edited a failed magazine, hosted a failed talk show, written one well-received book, and launched a Web site that loses an estimated $10 million a year and attracts relatively few readers. Even Jeremy Peters, the author of the Times article, acknowledged that Brown’s greatest achievements—as editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker back in the 20th century—were long behind her.
Even in the case of The New Yorker, the magazine wasn’t even profitable until Brown left and David Remnick took over. I don’t think it’s mean-spirited or jumping the gun to assume that this latest media venture will not be a success.