Mon Aug 2, 6:08 pm ET

Newsweek’s Meacham prepares to leave the magazine

By Michael Calderone

Jon Meacham

Newsweek editor Jon Meacham is leaving the magazine after a deal is completed between the Washington Post Company and stereo magnate Sidney Harman.

Meacham told The Upshot shortly after speaking to staff that he will plans to "stay for a bit to ensure a smooth transition."

But Meacham's decision wasn't influenced by Harman's bid winning out.

"In June I decided that I would use the ownership change as an occasion to move on," Meacham said. "I have been very fortunate to have worked for the Graham family, and when the Post Company made its decision it became clear to me that this was a good moment to make a change no matter who the buyer was."

Meacham, himself,  talked of pulling investors together shortly after the Post Company put Newsweek on the market. When The Upshot asked why he didn't, Meacham responded: "I am pleased with this outcome for the magazine."

NewsweekCritics have been tough on the 41-year-old editor since Newsweek went up for sale, arguing both that there was too much and too little Meacham at the magazine. Some believe the 2009 redesign was overly Meacham-centric, focusing heavily on the editor's interests. Others claimed that Meacham was more of an absentee editor, distracted by various outside projects.

A former Washington Monthly editor, Meacham joined Newsweek 15 years ago and quickly rose through the ranks. He became national editor at just 26 years old. And in October 2006, he succeeded Mark Whitaker — now NBC's Washington bureau chief — to become the magazine's youngest top editor.

Meacham has long been close to the Graham family, the magazine's stewards for the past half a century. He was even considered for the Washington Post executive editor job in 2008.

Despite soon leaving, Meacham spoke positively about the magazine's future.

"I am sure Mr. Harman will be a good steward of the magazine and of its values," Meacham said. "As I have told him, I will be rooting for him and for his team."

He said he's "proudest of the amazing work that our staff and contributors have done week in and week out (and hour by hour online) to bring the magazine to our readers."

Meacham still has other irons in the fire, including an authorized biography of former President George H. W. Bush and a PBS series, "Need to Know." He's also a frequent television pundit, appearing on Sunday-morning chat shows and MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"My own future will sort itself out," Meacham said. "Right now the focus needs to be on the transition."

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