The planned merger of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, the news Web site founded by former New Yorker editor Tina Brown, is getting closer to becoming a reality with this week's news that the two companies reached an agreement on union and staffing issues.
The deal, which is in the nature of a compromise, will add 36 Daily Beast employees to the rolls of the Newsweek employee union -- a move that will mean pay raises for some, but also make it necessary for Newsweek's management to offer buyouts to other magazine employees.
The union negotiators, represented by the Newspaper Guild of New York, seemed somewhat dyspeptic about the agreement, which preserves employees' collective bargaining capabilities but also necessitates some departures. Management balked at paying higher salaries for so many employees in the new, merged entity. Guild president Bill O'Meara was quoted in one report as saying: "We're hoping Brown can come up with a magic touch and make things work."
The two sides agreed to meet several months hence to discuss "cost-effective solutions designed to ensure the viability of the company," including Newsweek buyouts.
A certain number of layoffs and buyouts were inevitable, as Newsweek struggles to find firm financial footing after being sold by the Washington Post Co. to stereo magnate Sidney Harman last year.
Newsweek's total ad pages fell 19.8% in 2010, from 1,117 to 896 -- and that's just the last in a multiyear series of declines. The latter figure represents a 55% decline since 2006, when the magazine had 1,991 ad pages.