The Daily Beast launched just about a year ago, at a historical moment when news opportunities were extraordinarily rich and the economic challenges facing the media were extraordinarily dire. So how is Tina Brown’s latest enterprise doing? The FT reports:

One year on, as she scans her BlackBerry in London’s Sanderson Hotel, Ms Brown can point to a top 10 position on Technorati’s ranking of influential blogs, ahead of celebrity gossip site TMZ.com and Andrew Sullivan’s well-established politics blog, The Daily Dish.

In September, the site attracted 3.9m unique users, its highest monthly audience. Ms Brown says it has become “the smart person’s news site”.

Monthly uniques are by no means the end-all and be-all of reader engagement, but still… almost four million visitors is a lot of people.

Of course, the challenge facing everybody on the Web is figuring out how to turn eyeballs into cash. So how’s The Daily Beast doing on that front?

Mr Diller admits that it is not yet clear whether The Daily Beast has found a better model. “It’s not yet in evidence, but I’m hopeful,” he says in a telephone interview. “At some point, advertising is going to evolve from banners and 200 x 300 boxes that aren’t particularly compelling.”

Mr Diller hopes that is going to happen “before we run out of money” but insists he has not put “a judgment-day date” on when IAC will decide whether or not The Daily Beast can pay its way. “We’ll all know it when we know it,” he says.

More on what that model is, plus Brown’s contention that “books are the new magazines,” at the link.

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Greg Marx is an adjunct lecturer at The Medill School and a facilitator with The OpEd Project. She served as an editorial board member, columnist, library director, and No. 2 in the features department of the Chicago Sun-Times.