Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Media Death Watch

Jeff Bercovici has a provocative post today at Daily Finance suggesting that a bunch of well-known media titles, from to BusinessWeek, are destined for that great copy desk in the sky.

Apparently BW was the favorite of the "brain trust" that he assembled:

BusinessWeek. This was the clear consensus favorite, and it should come as no surprise, seeing as it was only two weeks ago that McGraw-Hill announced that it was reviewing "strategic options" for the 80-year-old weekly. Those options don't look good to my Brain Trustees.

"I don't think anyone will buy it, and McGraw-Hill will not stomach its continued loss," says one newspaper executive, speaking for many.
The numbers are pretty bad, but I think this assessment is way off.

Several serious buyers are indeed looking at the magazine, including, most recently, Joe Mansueto, publisher of Fast Company. BW has a brand name, tarnished as it may be because of missteps in recent years. There's been a drastic dropoff in advertising caused, in my view, not just by the economy but because the magazine just isn't attractive to advertisers anymore.

Mansueto can reverse that slide into oblivion. His Fast Company kicks ass, and has been racking up awards this year because of a humongous story on China's ventures in Africa by Rich Behar. That article was about the size of entire issues of BW lately.

Yeah, I know, FC has been losing ad revenues too. So has everyone. But few publications are at death's door like BW.

If Mansueto takes charge, he could make BW attractive to advertisers again. Worse case scenario: he, McGraw-Hill or another buyer could turn BW into a web-only product. But shut BW entirely and terminate an 80-year history? I just can't see Terry McGraw carrying out the coup de grâce in what has been a slow murder of this once-dominant magazine.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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