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Washington Post Co. puts Newsweek magazine up for sale

Newsweek, founded in 1933, generated only $8 million in online ad revenue last year.
Newsweek, founded in 1933, generated only $8 million in online ad revenue last year. (Charles Krupa/associated Press)
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Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham said Wednesday that he'd received calls from two wealthy individuals who heard the magazine was on the block. He said he is optimistic a buyer will step forth. Meacham said Graham has not said what will happen to Newsweek if no buyer is found.

"I want to find a way to keep Newsweek's voice alive in the conversation," Meacham said. "What that looks like, I can't say right now, but nothing would be more thrilling than for a terrific buyer to come knocking on the door."

Newsweek's best hope may be a wealthy individual who wants the magazine as a vanity publication -- one that loses money but that offers the owner a high-profile platform.

David Bradley, president of Atlantic Media Co., which owns the Atlantic magazine, National Journal and Government Executive, said on Wednesday that he would not bid for Newsweek.

"If you'd asked me five years ago, I would say I don't know anything more exciting" than owning Newsweek. "But I own three print publications and I feel that's as much print as I want to do."

Bradley said the Atlantic was losing a "fair amount of money" under previous owner Mort Zuckerman, who now owns U.S. News & World Report, and lost "a fantastic amount under me." But now the magazine is about to break even, he said, thanks to its combination of revenue streams: print advertising, online advertising and the company's conference business.

Bradley said he could think of few obvious buyers for Newsweek other than New York private-equity firms and hedge funds. He speculated that the big magazine companies -- such as Time Inc. and Conde Nast -- would not be interested.

And, he added, Newsweek "is too big to be a vanity project," he said.

Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter, 27-year veteran, said: "I think it's sad. People need to be cautious about speculating too much about our future. I hope we have a public-spirited buyer who respects good journalism and with the right kind of Web strategy that we can start prospering again."

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