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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why Tina Brown may be better off without a magazine or a website

The tweet said "the future of media is jazz hands".

It linked to a story about Tina Brown leaving the Daily Beast, the Barry Diller-funded cash hoover that has gone through God-knows-how-much money over the last few years, and starting Tina Brown Live Media, which is described as a home for "theatrical journalism".

There will be a lot of glee in the New York media over Brown's latest reverse, just as there was when her magazine Talk closed, having burned through Hearst money and Weinstein money. I wouldn't mind betting that now that he no longer has to worry about saving her face, Diller will quietly sell The Daily Beast to somebody else and it will slide from view just as Newsweek did a few months ago.

Because she writes her own press releases Tina Brown will present this reverse as an advance.

The funny thing is it may turn out to be just that. There are two reasons:

1. If you look at the growth of live music and the decline in the recorded variety, the increasing popularity of literary festivals and the decline in the sales of books and the growing amount we spend nowadays on fleeting occasions, you can see that people are more interested in experiences than things and "theatrical journalism" may just fit right in.

2. While in the past Tina Brown's greatest value was her ability to get famous people to write about other famous people and then sell the resulting, highly-wrought package to thousands of people who aren't famous, in the future her greatest value may be in using some of the same skills - and a few, such as jazz hands, that most magazine editors don't have - to put on and then coordinate live events featuring some of the same people.

"The future of media is jazz hands" isn't far off. Except it probably isn't media at all.