Goodbye McGraw-Hill, Hello Bloomberg
The BusinessWeek staff enters a New World, its corridors paved with gold
Today is the last day BusinessWeek will be within the corporate grasp of "Mother McGraw," as McGraw-Hill is known to its older employees. At midnight, eighty years of M-H control comes to an end, and the magazine becomes part of Bloomberg L.P., the staff intact except for 123 employees who were graciously "included in the restructuring program."
Given the amount of attention this change in ownership received, at least for a time, it's striking how little is known about what will happen to BusinessWeek after Bloomberg takes control. It's not even clear if it have an appreciable staff of its own, and staffers I know who were retained were brought into the wire, not the magazine. Only the highest editors--ironically, those with the greatest responsibility for its fate--were brought into the magazine proper (for the time being). All except the editor in chief, who was on the list of 123.
I'm sure that Terry McGraw, the CEO of the company, must feel terrible about having to get rid of the company's flagship publication. But business is business, and shareholder prerogatives must be protected (and this is a good example of why public ownership is incompatible with journalism).
I've never understood why Terry let the magazine go into such a decline. Did he really think hiring a wine critic would put BW back on its feet? Did he really think that patronizing attempts to curry favor with readers would keep advertisers from fleeing? Did he really think that expanding its ranks of high-level editors, at the same time that writers and line editors were being cut, was the right thing to do?
But that's all history now. The story of the decline, fall and possible rescue of BW will be a good journalism review story, one of these days.
© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.