The Washington Post

Sidney Harman, Newsweek owner and stereo magnate, dies at 92

by T. Rees Shapiro

Sidney Harman, the stereo system magnate, philanthropist, and polymath who purchased Newsweek magazine last year and helped reform the decades-old publication into a new media platform, died of complications from leukemia on Wednesday. He was 92.

Sidney Harman poses for photographers on the red carpet of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during the gala honoring the 2009 Kennedy Center Honorees. (MIKE THEILER/REUTERS)

In August 2010, The Washington Post Company sold Newsweek to Dr. Harman for $1. He beat out numerous other bidders by agreeing to pay off the publication’s debt and keep a majority of its journalists employed.

Dr. Harman led the magazine through a rebranding and merged the company with The Daily Beast, a news We bsite run by Tina Brown, a former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

For an individual with no background in news, Dr. Harman’s purchase of Newsweek appeared to many critics to be an brash decision. He earned his fortune by founding Harman/Kardon, a stereo equipment company that produced high-quality home music players.

His wealth, estimated last year to exceed $500 million, allowed Dr. Harman to donate much of his fortune to charities and fund a number of performing arts ventures, including the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall in downtown Washington.

In the late 1970s, under President Jimmy Carter, Dr. Harman served as deputy secretary of the Commerce Department. There, he met his future wife, Jane Harman, who served as a Democratic congresswoman representing the state of California for nearly two decades before resigning in February.

A full obituary is on the way. Please leave your thoughts or memories of Dr. Harman below.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.


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