Tina Brown's The Daily Beast, one of the hottest news websites of the new digital era, and Newsweek, an icon of the American magazine industry for 77 years, could be merged under a plan being hatched by the doyenne of New York publishing.
Ms Brown is believed to be deep in talks with Newsweek's new owner, the billionaire Sidney Harman, over combining the two businesses in a joint venture that would marry old and new media under her editorial control.
Rumours of the talks have been bubbling in the industry for several weeks, and The New York Times reported that Ms Brown has gone as far as submitting a memo to Mr Harman setting out how she would run Newsweek.
The magazine was sold by its former owner, The Washington Post Company, in August for $1, less than its cover price. It has lost $44m (£28m) over the past three years, amid declining readership and competition from online news sources.
Ms Brown's Daily Beast is among those new competitors for readers' attention, having launched two years ago this month with a diet of news pulled together from across the web, plus exclusive material from its own writers.
Ms Brown – technically Lady Evans, after her husband, the former Sunday Times editor Sir Harold Evans – had previously been editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.
The Daily Beast is still running at a loss with funding from the internet mogul Barry Diller's company IAC. It was unclear last night what Mr Diller's stance on a merger might be, or what other options Mr Harman is pursuing for new leadership at Newsweek.
In another move that signalled the coming of age of web-only news sites, The Daily Beast announced it had lured veteran media columnist Howard Kurtz from The Washington Post, after 30 years in print journalism, to write on media coverage of politics.
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