Wherefore art thou, Bloomberg BusinessWeek?


BusinessWeek, one of my favorite publications of all time, was purchased last year by Bloomberg because, well, media is no longer happy with the time tested adage, “if it ain’t broke…” Like a retired carpenter with too much time on his hands, big media is trolling around its house, looking for things to fix by breaking them first.

Certainly traditional media is broke (pun intended), but I submit that BusinessWeek was in no way traditional media – it was in fact one of the first and few of the old guard that brought conversant journalism to life.  The editors and writers encouraged real discussion, differing viewpoints, and leaked new media slowly into a progressive online format.

Enter Bloomberg.  According to a nifty email and (unembeddable) video I received from publisher Josh Tyrangiel, the new and improved Bloomberg BusinessWeek will be hard to miss.  In his words, “Magazines make these kinds of adjustments all the time; sometimes they even go unnoticed. But with the April 26 issue, you’ll see we’ve been building a new Bloomberg BusinessWeek that goes beyond mere tweaks.”

He goes on to tell me in interview format that they want to be not just a one-stop shop, but the biggest, baddest, bestest one-stop shop around.

You heard it here first:  I don’t want another one-stop media shop.  I have this thing called the “Internet” (don’t worry, if you haven’t heard of it yet you will soon!) that brings me more one-stop shops that I could possibly get through.  Nearly every major media page is a one-stop shop.  I’m trapped in a big box store media nightmare, lost in the aisles, wondering whether I can fit both the 5-lb mustard jar and the oversized financial perspective into my brain for the ride home.

Given the media industry’s plight, I certainly understand that Bloomberg was in a good position to buy the trusted BusinessWeek brand and didn’t hesitate.  No issue with that.  But whatever happened to letting it ride?  Why not buy it, enjoy the revenues, and let it continue to flourish from a content perspective?

As Mr. Tyrangiel notes, “BusinessWeek has thrived for more than 80 years because of bold coverage and a strong relationship with its readers.”  Unfortunately, that seems to be part of his qualifying apology for what he’s about to do to that relationship.

I’m hopeful that my anxiety is unwarranted, and that the pending first issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek will hit me like a spray of lukewarm water in September:  “Hey, what was…oh…(shrug)…well, ok.”

But I fear it will be more dramatic than that.  BusinessWeek of old, we barely knew ye…


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