Reactions to last week’s news that The Washington Post Co. is putting Newsweek up for sale have been pretty pessimistic.
Howard Kurtz: “It seems a foregone conclusion that Newsweek at best will be a shriveled version of its former self. In fact, some people think that’s already the case.”
Jeff Bercovici: “If Allen & Co. can succeed in finding a buyer for Newsweek, it will likely be the sort of transaction in which the Post Co. accepts a nominal sum just to rid itself of the expense of publishing a money-hemorrhaging weekly magazine.”
Michael Wolff: “Newsweek will be closed by the end of this year. The idea that someone will buy it is wishful—or if they do, it will be for scrap. Newsweek as we know it is done.”
But Newsweek editor in chief Jon Meacham seems determined to save the magazine.
There’s been talk of him rounding up potential billionaire financiers. And when he went on “The Daily Show” the same day the bad news broke, he laid out what seemed like the ultimate “duh” strategy for Newsweek’s uncertain future:
“For 77 years, the emphasis has been on the print. It’s probably time to flip that, in which you are solely focused on the digital, and by the end of the week, you take the best stuff” and compile it for the people who “want to hold the magazine in their hands.”
To succeed in that, Meacham’s going to have to rely on his most innovative editorial staffers, the ones who best understand how to synergize print and the web. On that front, there seems to be an optimistic tone within Newsweek’s editorial ranks.
“There are lots of people doing smart journalism in innovative ways,” one editor told us. “I really do think the staff overall is full of good people.”
We wondered which Newsweek staffers have this special right stuff, so we asked around. Here are 10 names that came up. Let us know if there’s anyone we missed.
—Additional research by Lauren Hatch
Snyder was hired as Executive Editor of Newsweek Digital in April after he got axed from Gawker as part of Nick Denton's acquisition of the website CityFile. During his 18-month tenure as Gawker's editor in chief, he doubled the site's traffic and expanded news coverage to serve a more national audience.
In a staff memo announcing Snyder's hire, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham gushed:
'In our conversations with Gabriel, we have been impressed not only with his sophisticated knowledge of Web technique and Internet philosophy but with his understanding of the mission and potential for the soon-to-be re-launched Newsweek.com and our growing stable of digital offerings.'
If Newsweek is trying to raise its digital profile, it's good to have writers who can become online commodities in and of themselves, which Colter Walls seems to have achieved.
'It helps the brand,' one Newsweek staffer offered.
Mark Coatney is a senior articles editor for Newsweek.com, but he's also the guy behind Newsweek's Tumblr and the one who started the magazine's Twitter feed back in 2008, two efforts he took it upon himself to spearhead on top of his every day editorial duties.
Newsweek's Tumblr is a good example of how a news organisation can engage its readers (and its naysayers) with new media. In the past week, Coatney's been using it to respond to the magazine's critics.
'It's been nice to respond and defend ourselves,' he told The New York Observer. 'This has enabled us to have a voice and talk about things in a separate forum that doesn't seem as weird as the front page of Newsweek.com.'
Bucha is Newsweek's first social media editor, a position for which she was hired in September 2009. She's the one transmitting the magazine's stories to the world via Facebook, Twitter and Digg, which, we're told, now drives about 7% of Newsweek.com's traffic versus 1% a year ago before she joined the staff.
Romano, a senior politics writer, is a print guy, but some say he's also the best blogger the magazine's ever had.
During the 2008 election, Romano launched Newsweek's Stumper blog, which averaged around 2 million monthly pageviews at its peak and got his byline more hits than any other staff writer that year, a Newsweek rep confirmed.
Going forward, Newsweek will need lots of people like him who can flow smoothly between long-form magazine journalism and immediate web content.
Summers is a senior reporter covering business and technology. Before Newsweek, he founded IvyGate, the popular Ivy League news and gossip blog.
'Nick's got all these good roots in the digital world,' one of his co-workers told us. 'He's very native to that form even though he's on the magazine payroll. You want young reporters who are smart about the web.'
Bennett is a senior writer who focuses on society, national affairs, women and lifestyle.
She's known for turning her stories for the magazine and website into ongoing conversations with readers, like she did with a recent piece about sexism in the workplace that's evolved into its own Tumblr blog called 'The Equality Myth.'
Barna is a publicist at Newsweek, and while we admit it's a bit unorthodox to put a flak on a list like this, she does some innovative social media stuff, like creating a separate Newsweek Tumblr for the recent White House Correspondents Dinner with unique content like this flashy mini-slideshow of Rachel Maddow tending bar.
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