In a move that sort of reeks of desperation more than it does slick PR, Newsweek's Jon Meacham announced that Stephen Colbert will be the magazine's guest editor for the issue hitting newsstands on June 8.

Colbert's guest stint will mark the first time that Newsweek, which recently underwent it's second major design reconstruction in three years, has ever used a guest editor in its 76-year history. Meacham told The Observer how the idea came about.

Mr. Meacham said the idea was born from a lunch he had with Mr. Colbert at Gabriel's near Columbus Circle.

"I was just very impressed with the range of his knowledge and he had an almost encyclopedic feel for anything that came up," said Mr. Meacham. "As we think about ways to both inform and surprise readers of the magazine, the notion of having him as a guest editor seemed like a good one."

Meacham denied that the decision to bring Colbert in was a stunt similar to Tina Brown's bringing in Roseanne Barr to edit the New Yorker in 1995.

Mr. Meacham said his inspiration was when Bono served as guest editor of the Africa issue in Vanity Fair in July 2007.

"The notion of having someone who cares deeply about an issue and who wants to do something more than being profiled or writing a single piece has some appeal to us," said Mr. Meacham.

The Observer piece says that Colbert will write an essay for the issue, help design its cover, hand out assignments, pick pull-quotes to highlight, and feature "a number of unpublished letters to the editor Mr. Colbert has written to Newsweek since he was a kid."

Desperate PR stunt or not, we think it sounds like the most fun week of work Newsweek staffers will ever have at the magazine.

Newsweek Turns to Tina Tricks: Meet Guest Editor … Stephen Colbert! [New York Observer]
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