Nearly one year after Newsweek and The Daily Beast agreed to merge, the combined company reshuffled its management ranks, signaling that things have not gone as planned.
Ray Chelstowski, who became the publisher in January, was relieved of his duties yesterday. That’s a nice way of saying he was fired. Chelstowski was joined on the unemployment line by Tom Weber, the managing editor, who the company said is planning to write a book.
And Edward Felsenthal, the executive editor who has been with The Daily Beast since it launched in 2008, resigned as well, though his departure apparently has been in the works for months.
Chelstowski is being replaced by Eric Danetz, who previously worked at CBS Interactive, in the hopes that he can revive Newsweek’s advertising which, despite being up in the last two months, is down 21% compared to last year.
Weber is the second managing editor to resign in the past year and his position is being retired, perhaps underscoring the difficulty in working under a demanding boss like Tina Brown.
Felsenthal’s replacement will be Justine Rosenthal, a senior editor at The Daily Beast who joined the company in August.
In addition to the management changes, Newsweek announced that it was ending its longtime political series, citing the quickening pace of the news cycle. Soaring costs is more likely the real reason to end the campaign coverage series after 27 years.
Despite predictions by the company that the combination of Newsweek and The Daily Beast would be profitable, that has proven to be an elusive goal so far with losses reportedly at $20 million for Newsweek and $10 million for The Daily Beast.
The late Sid Harman, who bought Newsweek from the Washington Post Co. for $1 and assumed its liabilities, vowed to keep publishing the magazine. But now that he is gone it will be much harder for the company’s executives to justify throwing good money after bad.
Tina Brown needs to admit that Newsweek is not worth saving and should jettison the magazine before it sinks The Daily Beast.