Friday, November 20, 2009

The New BusinessWeek Will Look Like.....?

The layoffs taking place at BusinessWeek, as it gears up to melt into Bloomberg, are much larger than had been anticipated--a third of the staff--and raise some interesting questions about what the magazine is going to look like, and how it will be staffed.

It's not even clear to what extent the new BW will have its own writing staff. Higher-level editors are being retained for the magazine, but so far I haven't heard of any BW writers being retained to work exclusively for the magazine. This is crucial to the magazine's identity, if one cares about such things.

I've heard from multiple sources that the new BW will use the Bloomberg wire's staff to cover Wall Street and finance, and that the people in my old department who have been retained will be going to the wire, not the magazine. Stock market columnist Gene Marcial is being let go, along with the rest of the magazine's columnists. He had a substantial following, surviving previous layoffs that had already gutted the staff, but he's history.

The impression I get is that BW people are a bit in a state of shock over the extent to which the staff is being gutted. Can't say I blame them. But it was obvious from the moment BW was put up for sale that this outcome was always in the cards. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in their stars, but in Terry McGraw.

UPDATE: Bloomberg denies the 130-fired figure. The number dismissed is important because the federal WARN act kicks in if at least 33% of a work force is laid off. 130/400 would be under that number.

Some of the media accounts have talked about BW people "staying with the magazine." I know that at least one of those reports is incorrect, and I have my doubts about the extent to which the new BW will have a dedicated writing staff. It's possible. But Bloomberg has a large staff of experienced writers, some of whom had worked for the Wall Street Journal, Portfolio and, of course, BW itself. It would be logical for them to contribute to the new Bloomberg-BW.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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