The Daily Beast

I’m pretty excited. Tina Brown’s new site finally launched. It’s called The Daily Beast, and seems to be a modern linky mix of Vanity Fair and Perez Hilton, with some heavy A+L Daily for that extra braininess. I guess it’s our lefty version of Drudge, but for people with the required attention span to read, and a desire for design.

Here’s what the FT had to say:

Another scoop for Tina Brown as she swaps print for web

The struggling US magazine industry is losing one of its biggest cheerleaders to the web as Tina Brown trades the glossy pages and lengthy essays of her past career for the hyperlinks and blog entries of a new site called The Daily Beast.

The former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and the short-lived Talk launched a trial version of the site, funded by Barry Diller’s IAC new media empire on Monday.

Named after a fictional Fleet Street newspaper in Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, the site is pitched as both a home to original commentary and a “curator” of other sites’ highlights, putting it in competition with an ever-growing list of bloggers and news aggregators.

According to Ms Brown, however, her site has appeal because of the very fact that the market is so crowded.

“What’s been lacking for the overwhelmed but smart reader is an intelligent guide,” she said in an interview. “The time is right to do a site which cuts through the noise and cuts through the clutter.”

Rather than worthy “eat your peas news”, The Daily Beast will offer political, cultural and celebrity coverage with “a unique editorial sensibility”, she said.

Ms Brown’s fabled networking skills have pulled in contributors including Nigella Lawson, the British celebrity chef; Christopher Buckley, the US satirist; and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch politician.

Her foray into internet publishing, which she admits was “terra incognita” before she started work on the site in July, comes as many online outlets are seeing the same pressures on advertising revenues as have weighed on print publications.

Talk, the magazine, book and film venture she launched with support from Hearst and Miramax in 1999, folded in the post-9/11 advertising slump, but Ms Brown said she was “as confident as anybody can be” about The Daily Beast’s prospects.

She would not disclose what investment Mr Diller had supplied but said The Daily Beast would sit alongside a portfolio of “emerging” internet businesses within the “new IAC”, created by this year’s spin-off of companies such as Ticketmaster and Lending Tree.

Caroline Marks, general manager of the site and a former Comcast Interactive Media executive, said it would rely on advertising and sponsorship revenues, but would benefit from promotion from Ask.com, IAC’s search engine, and traffic deals with other portals.

The site, edited by Edward Felsenthal, a former Wall Street Journal deputy managing editor, would target “higher end advertisers . . . who have a natural affinity with publications where Tina worked before,” Ms Marks said.

Mr Diller’s proposal for the site was put on hold for two years while Ms Brown finished The Diana Chronicles, her biography of the Princess of Wales. She is now working on The Clinton Chronicles, and remains a consultant to HBO, the premium television channel.

But the “open beta” launch, after which users can recommend improvements, has been brought forward as Ms Brown chafed at having to watch an unfolding financial crisis and the US presidential elections from the sidelines.

“You don’t know how it killed me not to be up during the primaries,” she said. “It may be a horrible economic time, but it’s a wonderful journalistic time.”

Been reading it while eating Sauer-Scharf Suppe, which I consider a salute to the tone of the new site. Huzzah, I wish you much success!

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