Another sign in of the Great Media Collapse of 2009: BusinessWeek apparently sold to Bloomberg for $5 million yesterday.
That’s right. Bloomberg purchased the staid, 80-year-old business magazine for less than the cost of a four bedroom condo on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Here’s the Wall Street Journal:
“The purchase price wasn’t disclosed, but people familiar with the matter say Bloomberg agreed to pay nearly $5 million and take responsibility for more than $10 million in liabilities, including severance for BusinessWeek staffers who might lose their jobs.”
How the mighty have fallen.
BusinessWeek is still considered one of the top three business magazines in the industry (with Forbes and Fortune). It is more news focused than its peers, but brings an aggressive, no-nonsense sensibility to business reporting. BusinessWeek is particularly strong at covering financial markets and technology. The magazine’s web site is also a case study in how magazines and newspapers can infuse social media into their online storytelling (the site attracts an average of about 5 million visitors a month, according to Compete.com)
For PR people, getting an article on a client in BusinessWeek was the equivalent of winning a major award.
BusinessWeek also has a stable of excellent reporters – Steve Hamm, Heather Green, Jon Fine, Rob Hof and Stephen Baker to name a few. The journalists at BusinessWeek were always a pleasure to work with from a PR perspective – always professional and interested in good stories. What more could you ask for?
Yet despite its reputation and standards, BusinessWeek has had a rough go lately. Again the Wall Street Journal:
“BusinessWeek last year lost $43 million; losses were expected to exceed $60 million this year, according to people familiar with the matter. The losses include money allocated for rent and other infrastructure shared with McGraw-Hill.”
Bloomberg is likely to change the name of the publication to “Bloomberg BusinessWeek,” which reeks of Trumpism. Bloomberg is also saying all the right things – it hasn’t decided on staffing cuts yet and that it bought the magazine to grow it. But expect lay-offs – big lay-offs. And it remains to be seen what direction Bloomberg will take with the magazine.
Peter Kafka at All Things Digital has a copy of the memo BusinessWeek Publisher Kieth Fox sent to staff shortly after the sale was announced. It is worth a read.
My take? Somehow this sale feels like an end rather than a beginning. I hope I’m wrong.