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Newsweek bought by stereo tycoon

91-year-old Sidney Harman takes on the faltering icon of American journalism as an apparent labour of love.

“DESPITE MY YEARS, I bring energy and a fresh approach,” said the new owner of Newsweek, 91-year-old Sidney Harman, after buying the loss-making magazine.

Harman, founder of audio equipment maker Harman International Industries, beat three other bidders for the title: OpenGate Capital, hedge fund Avenue Capital Group and Fred Drasner, former co-publisher of the New York Daily News.

Newsweek, which has been running for 77 years, has been widely regarded as a stalwart of quality American journalism. However in recent years the title, owned by The Washington Post until this week, has been making significant losses.

Last year, Newsweek returned a loss of $30m; in the first quarter of this year alone, the loss was $11m.

Donald Graham, chief executive of the Washington Post, talked about the kind of individual that the company had hoped to see taking over the title: “In seeking a buyer for Newsweek, we wanted someone who feels as strongly as we do about the importance of quality journalism,” he said.

Harman appears to be the man for the job, then, as the The Wall Street Journal quotes him as saying: “I’m an experienced and knowledgeable businessman. I have a fundamental respect for the role of journalism and I think it has done no harm when you bring discipline to it.”

No details were given about the deal itself, but Harman has said that most of the 300 jobs at Newsweek will be safe.

The magazine’s editor, Jon Meacham, has announced plans to resign however.

It has been reported that Harman is taking on Newsweek as something of a labour of love, and does not expect to a quick turnaround in the title’s profit-making ability.

“(Harman) feels he has a chance to make a contribution to society by helping to preserve a great publication,” Geoffrey Cowan, dean emeritus of the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at University of Southern California, is quoted as saying.

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