For a dollar. You haven't been able to buy a copy of the magazine for a buck in more than thirty years, and Mr. Harman bought the entire shootin' match for a hundred pennies. Of course, he's also assuming a large portion of its debt, which will amount to quite a few more pennies, and he's apparently agreed to keep most of the magazine's staff, which means he will have an operation that continues to bleed more and more pennies.
One of the employees he won't have is editor Jon Meacham, who announced he'll be leaving the magazine he at one point wanted to try to gather up enough money to buy, in order to keep one of the only "catcher[s] in the rye standing between an informed public and the end of democracy" open. "Why" is kind of up for grabs, and who cares, really, because under Meacham's leadership Newsweek gave us stories like this one about whether or not post-election euphoria might spark a baby boomlet amongst Obama supporters (previously mocked here). Or this nasty little bit of wish-fulfillment a writer dreams up about how things would be different if the 2000 election had happened differently (previously mocked here). I will pause for a moment and offer thanks with you for how much longer our democracy will now endure because of journalism like this.
Obviously the idea of a weekly magazine being able to cover news in such a fashion as to be worth reading in the world of instant communications is dead. The only thing such a format can offer a reader is a lot more in-depth information, exploration and analysis, like The Economist or City Journal does, or gossipy, frothy celebrity-driven pop culture puffery like People does. It might offer analysis with a decided political slant, like Mother Jones, The Nation or National Review or The Weekly Standard. Therein lies the problem Mr. Harman now has to engage. Those magazines already exist.
Newsweek lost $29 million in 2009 and is probably on a pace to lose double-digit millions in 2010. But even if Mr. Harman is unable to stem those losses soon, it is unlikely that trying to run the magazine will exhaust his fortune. After all, like I said, he's 91. Something else is likely to run out before his money does.