At last, Barry Diller gets to correct his ‘mistake,’ unload ‘Newsweek’

Barry Diller's 'Newsweek' regret. ()
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The Lineup collects the media stories, big and small, that are on our radar each day.

Politico's Dylan Byers has the internal memo confirming Variety's report yesterday that Newsweek is once again up for sale.

In a note to staff of the now all-digital Newsweek and its IAC-owned sister title, The Daily Beast, Tina Brown, editor of the two publications, and Baba Shetty, their C.E.O., said the reason for the sale is because they want to focus fully on the Beast.

They write:

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Why explore a sale now? The simple reason is focus. Newsweek is a powerful brand, but its demands have taken attention and focus away from The Daily Beast.  The story that hasn't been told about The Daily Beast is its strength.  Deidre Depke and her team have earned the Webby for Best News site for two years running.  Our traffic is up significantly yet again this year. And digital ad sales in a very tough environment are up 30% year to date.

Newsweek has been a drag on IAC's bottom line since the company acquired it in 2011.

Unable to turn the money-losing magazine around, IAC shut down the print edition at the end of last year and made Newsweek a digital-only title available for purchase on tablets. But the digital edition has so far failed to build up a healthy subscriber base.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV last month, IAC chairman Barry Diller said buying Newsweek was a "mistake."

"Most rational business people wouldn’t go out of their way to deprecate the value of an asset a few weeks before they try to sell it," writes Forbes' Jeff Bercovici.

"With a recent redesign of Newsweek receiving strongly positive reviews, the thinking was that another owner might be able to rediscover the value of the 80-year-old brand, whereas at IAC, where Diller has made it clear that the media segment itself is an afterthought, Newsweek would never be more than a distraction."

On Capital...

As protesters gather in Midtown, Koch brothers call Tribune bid 'media speculation,' tout union record

Elsewhere...

Peter Lauria dives "deep inside" NBC Universal's "corporate culture makeover." [BuzzFeed]

Michael Musto's post-Village Voice gigs include columns for Gawker, Out and The Advocate. [NYP/Page Six]

The New York Times' Anthony Weiner coverage has "toughened up." [NYT/Public Editor's Journal]

Thomson Reuters has hired an Economist executive to lead its media unit. [Reuters]

News Corp. is launching a LinkedIn competitor. [Times of London]

Russia Today is giving Larry King a new politics show. [RT]

New commentators at CNN. [TV Newser]

Quote of the day...

I am not saying I didn't make many mistakes along the way—even some spectacular ones. ... You may be wondering why I want to do it all over again. The simple answer is: there is opportunity everywhere.

Rupert Murdoch

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From our inbox...

Professional photojournalists have a strong message for Yahoo! C.E.O. Marissa Mayer:

Dear Ms. Mayer,

As president of the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) I write to you on behalf of the seven (7) organizations listed below, collectively representing more than 150,000 worldwide members, to express our strong displeasure with your most recent statements regarding professional photographers. According to press reports you said publicly during a Yahoo event, “because today, with cameras as pervasive as they are, there is no such thing really as professional photographers . . . .” In subsequent Tweets you then said that “was a misstatement on my part and out of context.”

We find it extremely difficult to understand how anyone, especially someone in your position could say such a thing in any context. We find these comments demeaning and devaluing to professional photography and photographers, especially coming from a company like Yahoo! that derives millions of pageviews from photographs, has a number of photosharing applications in its portfolio, and is attempting to monetize those images for even greater profits.

As Jim Colton, a veteran photo editor who has worked in the industry for over 40 years at organizations such as the Associated Press, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated, wrote in an article (http://jimcolton.com/blog/2013/5/21/spitting-on-the-grave), “it is also an insult to all the professional photographers throughout history who have sacrificed everything to their craft…including their lives.” As he asked, do you “really think that anyone with an iPhone or a point and shoot can cover the wars in Afghanistan or the strife in Libya or Syria where we recently lost incredibly talented professionals like Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington?”

Peter Adams, recognized as one of the world’s leading travel photographers, said in 1978, “Photography is not about cameras, gadgets and gismos. Photography is about photographers. A camera didn't make a great picture any more than a typewriter wrote a great novel.”

Because you are a business leader, we think your comments may have a far-reaching and possibly unintended impact upon the public. We also believe that this may be a teachable moment and to that end we are sending you under separate cover some examples of the Best of Photojournalism annuals, a collection of images taken by professional photographers. We hope these photographs will help you be more mindful that being a professional means more than earning a living from a skill. For photojournalists it means educating, informing and inspiring the public everyday through our work. It also means abiding by standards, ethics and principles.

While we still request a public apology for your comments, we would also like to meet with you and your staff to develop a better understanding of and appreciation for the professional photographic community.

Thank you for your attention in this matter. We look forward to your timely response.

Very truly yours,

Michael Borland