September 17, 2012

USA Today
USA Today columnist Michael Wolff, a big name brought in to stoke much-needed buzz at a legacy publication trumpeting its reinvention as an Internet-age news organization, slams Newsweek Editor Tina Brown for bringing in big names and trying to stoke much-needed buzz at the legacy publication she’s trying to reinvent as an Internet-age news organization.

She is, in a sink hole of cost, trying to use old-media tricks to meld The Daily Beast and Newsweek into the kind of zeitgeist-shaping, buzz-creating, cocktail-party-fueling package that the media has, for so long, been built around — part craft, part culture, part snobbery.

As if on cue, Newsweek announced its new print cover Monday, one that fronts a story by Ayaan Hirsi Ali with the coverline “Muslim Rage.” (Ali, I guess I should note, is married to Niall Ferguson, author of Newsweek’s most recent cover controversy.)

Wolff writes with some sympathy toward Brown, who he says is competing in a field where “much of the content is at a subsistence level, a patchwork of the borrowed, stolen, hurried and amateur that has neither captured reader loyalty nor advertisers’ imaginations.”

It’s certainly a place where reaction, something Tina Brown openly courts, thrives. Jillian C. York has compiled a Storify showing how readers are reacting to the cover, as well as another one showing how journalists are reacting:

Related: Newsweek’s asparagus cover the latest recycling for magazine | Newsweek’s gay-marriage cover is a flag in the ground for print journalism | Tina Brown’s Newsweek covers have featured women 6 of 14 weeks

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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