Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First Casualty of the BusinessWeek Sale

That was fast. Steve Adler's resignation from BusinessWeek was announced late yesterday, and according to Keith Kelly it is likely to be followed by others. Kelly makes it seem as if the staff is in chaos, with one other top editor likely to go and the status of another unclear.

Bloomberg has a reputation for being no-nonsense in such matters--in contrast to McGraw-Hill, which kept the magazine's top masthead in stasis even as it drowned in red ink. Still, I was expecting a bit more of a transition period.

In the current issue, Adler has an editor's memo in which he ends by saying "We look forward to continuing to serve you—and continuing to make ourselves indispensable." Seems his use of the word "we" was premature.

Folio reports ominously: "Bloomberg is not expected to ask all, if any, BusinessWeek employees to stay on following the acquisition."

If there are to be massive layoffs, I imagine it's only fair for the top editors to go first. It's a tragedy, and one gets the sense that it didn't have to be this way.

Initially I thought Adler was taking BW in the right direction. His selection for the magazine seemed to be a surprisingly good choice at the time, and I remember early reports that he was shedding deadwood and making good personnel decisions. But then came a redesign that didn't jell, massive layoffs and advertiser defections. It was a sad end to 80 years of stewardship of the magazine by McGraw-Hill.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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