Tina Brown: Goodbye, Daily Beast. Hello, book deal.

Tina Brown
Tina Brown, former editor of the Daily Beast, is writing a memoir.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Just after news that she’ll leave the Daily Beast, Tina Brown has announced that she will publish “Media Beast,” a memoir “of her years at the top of the media world,” as publisher Henry Holt describes in it a news release. Holt confirms that the book, slated for publication in 2016, is expected to include Brown’s departure from the Daily Beast.

In a release not short on hyperbole, the publisher described what to expect from the memoir.

“Brown will tell the inside story of her years revolutionizing magazine journalism, beginning with her editorship of Tatler in London at the age of 25. She’ll unzip the vivid and very personal diary she kept from the ‘80s and ‘90s when she first hit New York to become editor in chief of the almost defunct relaunch of Condé Nast’s Vanity Fair.” In the eight years she was at Vanity Fair, Brown increased circulation from 200,000 to 1.2 million; she left the magazine in 1992.

The release continues, “Brown went on to revive and reinvent the legendary New Yorker magazine, hiring top talents such as David Remnick, Lawrence Wright, Malcolm Gladwell, Jane Meyer and Jeffrey Toobin and increased newsstand sales by 145 percent.”

That’s not all. “The book will tell why Brown startled the media world by leaving the court of Si Newhouse’s Condé Nast to launch the controversial Talk magazine and book company with Harvey Weinstein,” the release continues, “and how she learned to be a talk show host with her own TV show, CNBC’s “Topic A.” She will describe how she adapted in the seismic shift from print to digital journalism when in 2008 she and IAC chairman Barry Diller created The Daily Beast, then tried to save Newsweek which still struggled while The Daily Beast continued its upward growth, winning the Webby Award for Best News Site in 2012 and 2013.”

What isn’t said is that Brown’s career in journalism has not always had an upward trajectory. Talk magazine lasted only two years, folding in 2001. The Daily Beast’s acquistion of Newsweek was widely considered a misstep, an attempt to merge new media with old media that failed to benefit either. Newsweek’s last print issue came out last December. Brown’s colleague in the project, financier Barry Diller, called the purchase a “mistake.” Newsweek was sold to IBT Media in August 2013.

For a memoir to be worthwhile, its author has to tell a full story. A list of Brown’s successes is certainly valid, but it won’t make for a very interesting book.


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