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Living Can Kill You

The danger with ending Newsweek.com

Media mergers are rarely as great as they sound on paper — part of the brand of a news media company is the culture of its staff. Change the make-up of that staff, you change the core of the brand. As such, the announcement of The Daily Beast’s “marriage” with Newsweek intensified speculation about what it meant for the just recently sold magazine.

What’s more unusual, though, is what some of that speculation has resulted in.

Past and present employees of Newsweek’s Web site are rising to its defence. And rightly so.

While at msnbc.com, I occasionally worked with some of Newsweek’s online team and what they are doing is impressive. Newsweek.com has lead the media industry to Tumblr with its efforts there. The last redesign is simple, online-friendly, and relies on HTML5 for its underlying code. And, the team has elevated design to be a defining element of its online presence.

Ten years ago, merging one online property with another was, if not defensible, and least difficult to argue against. The rules of the game were still being defined, and revenue was something to worry about later.

Now, however, online media has become, for most people, the primary point of contact with any media brand, and Newsweek is no different.

Redirecting Newsweek.com to TheDailyBeast.com reflects an understanding of online media that resulted in mergers like AOL and Time-Warner. And even if the printed Newsweek were to be renamed The Daily Beast, the damage to the online presence will take years to rebuild.

Barry Diller et al., if they really want The Daily Beast to flourish, would be wise to heed those voices tumbling across the Web.

A few hours after posting this, Tina Brown posted to Twitter saying Newsweek content will live on under its own banner on The Daily Beast site. Not surprising, but still at odds with what the voices are suggesting.