Monday, November 23, 2009

A Peek at the New BusinessWeek

Somebody sent me a Bloomberg story that ran today on Andrew Cuomo, New York's attorney general and a rising star in the Democratic party, describing how Cuomo took cash from lawyers with business before his office.

It's a great piece, and it occurred to me that this kind of story is an example of why Bloomberg need BusinessWeek--and what the magazine is going to look like under its new owners.

The magazine has reportedly jettisoned over 130 people (the exact number is disputed by Bloomberg), and some of the most prominent writers--including all of its columnists--are being let go, including, startlingly, longtime economics writer Mike Mandel.

How could Bloomberg get rid of such prominent, well-known journalists? The reason, I think, is that Bloomberg doesn't want prominent, well-known journalists writing for the magazine. It wants to clear the decks for BW to become a showcase for its preexisting talent, such as the writers of the Cuomo story. Unless they're picked up by the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, stories like that don't get much mileage. That will change when BW comes under Bloomberg's wing.

Now, I could be dead wrong about this -- and we won't know for sure until the mgazine has appeared for a while under its new owners--but my sense is that BW's existing writers are going to play second fiddle to that urgent corporate need.

That would explain why BW editors are staying with the magazine, while writers (such as my old colleagues covering finance) are apparently mainly going to the wire, if they are kept at all.

So I guess that the bottom line of the Bloomberg acquisition is that Bloomberg will be a far better steward of BW than any of the other buyers would have been. But for the existing staff, particularly if they were writers, it's going to be one hell of an adjustment.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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