Friday, January 04, 2008

More BW Blues

More glum tidings from my alma mater, Business Week: assistant managing editor Paul M. Barrett, who joined the magazine with great fanfare to lead investigative projects, has left for the Wall Street Journal, from whence he came.

With this coming on the heels of a major bloodletting, in which non-undercompensated veteran staffers were purged to trim the payroll, it is bad news for the magazine and its (I hear) demoralized staff. Rumblings out of BW tell me that the staff is not crazy about its new redesign and showcasing of "celebrity" columnists, and that readers aren't charmed by the changes either. Nor advertisers, apparently.

Obviously Barrett is unfazed by the onset of Rupert Murdoch at the Journal. And why not? Despite the expressions of angst from many quarters, including this one, there's no indication that the Journal will jettison its franchise of investigative reporting and meaty narratives.

Business Week, on the other hand, has lost advertisers, and issues are substantially thinner than they were during the magazine's heyday in the 1990s. Less advertising means less editorial copy, and that is a toxic combination for text-heavy investigative reporting.

BW still does hard-hitting stuff, such as its "Prisoners of Debt" and "How Toxic is Your Mortgage?" cover stories. But with ads on the wane, even the most deserving articles aren't as long as comparable stories two or three redesigns ago.

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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