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14/03/09

Tina Brown Interviewed by Tarun Tejpal from Tehelka, (UKYPE 09)

Somewhat delayed post from our recent trip to India – notes from “The Nature of the Beast” Tina Brown in conversation with Tarun Tejpal at the Japiur Literature Festival, January 24th 2009.

[Written as part of our visit to India with the British Council. All such posts will be listed in a dedicated category; apologies if this isn't of interest. If it is of interest, then you can also see more on our Flickr set]

Tina Brown (from MediaBistro)

Audience gathers for Tina Brown's discussion with Tehelka's Tarun Tejpal at the Jaipur Literature Festival

Tina and Tarun were talking about Tina’s new web-only venture, The Daily Beast, which launched in the run-up to the American election last year. Tarun is the editor of Tehelka, India’s leading political, weekly journal.

Tina – previous editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Talk, and author of two biographies (Princess Diana and Hillary Clinton) – focused her talk on three beasts:

  1. America. The biggest beast of them all.
  2. India.
  3. The journalistic crisis around the world, particularly in the US.

I found the entire talk fascinating, but these are the notes I wrote.

- She had just left Washington and the inauguration. She described walking back, with a sea of people behind her – and how such a sea of people had not been seen since 9/11, and in fact reminded her of it. She then described the inauguration as “9/11 in reverse…. as if a curse had been lifted” and that the Bush years had been like a curse, bookended by these seas of people.

- She used a phrase that I hadn’t heard before, of Barack Obama as the first “black berry president”. Ho ho.

- She said that in her experience, it takes three scoops before a publication is taken seriously. She described it her job to get those three scoops, which have the net effect of making readers uneasy if they don’t have your publication (and are therefore unable to talk about it first). That unease is great, from a publisher’s perspective.

- Of her choice to move to the web, she talked about the “unwieldily distribution” of magazines, and the speed and agility of publishing online. She also talked of its massive reach – the Daily Beast gets 2 million unique visitors per month, and 11m page views per month – and how this had been achieved in a very short time.

- I was surprised to hear her give less credit to The Huffington Post [TDB's most obvious competitor; during the election I flitted from one to the other on an hourly basis]. She was perhaps a little snarky about HuffPo’s editorial credentials, suggesting that the articles aren’t finished, researched, subbed or even proofed to the rigorous standards of TDB.

On the whole TB came across as incredibly smart and super-articulate, and obviously a media powerhouse. I am personally fascinated by the fact that someone of her skills, reach and credentials has chosen the web for her new venture, when she could have had the choice of any medium, and indeed backer.

Posted by Peter Collingridge in Publishing, UKYPE India Trip.

Quietube: YouTube without the distractions // Apt’s links for March 16th through March 17th

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