paidContent - What To Do With BusinessWeek, The Mother-In-Law Edition

This story was written by Rafat Ali.
Ever since the news of BusinessWeek hiring a banker to explore sale options came out earlier this week, everyone’s been weighing in on how to reinvent the venerable but embattled mag, and if nothing else comes out of the process, at least the McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHP) management will have lots of ideas for the near future. Everyone from former and (surprisingly) current BW journalists, competitors, and sundry consultant death-to-print types (my own contribution to it here, though it has more to do with sale options than reinvention options).

So, here’s a roundup:

Bruce Nussbaum, of BW: Two models may work: “Model One, a hybrid subsriber/advertiser web-based brand that is based on a series of engagements or conversations around key business issues that are curated by smart editors or smart participants…Model Two is the elite subscriber print magazine, a la The Economist and the revamped Harvard Business Review.”

Alan Webber, co-founding editor of Fast Company (he may want to help FC first): “The fact is, every one of BW’s problems is potentially fixable…BW could bring fresh energy, opinion, and perspective to all of the change in business that is so hard to make sense of. It could use interpretive graphics and recruit opinionated columnists—with renewed opportunity for bloggers who can compete for space on the web site. A renewed BW could cherry pick the best old school business journalists (who are all dying for a new venue) and add in the new generation of academics and trendspotters who are producing hit books blending sociology with new management practices.” Yeah, FC style…

Gary Weiss: The former BW writer responds to Alan’s commentary: “The fact is that BW moved away from regurgitating the news, and moved in the very direction that Webber suggests, quite some time ago under the former editor Steve Shepard…my feeling is that [current editor Stephen Adler’s] 2007 redesign went in the wrong direction, that he made a mistake by building up a bureaucracy of middle-management while staff was being chopped, that the new columns were a waste, and that he generally did not make optimal use of the magazine’s resources and brainpower.”

Mark Ivey, former BW writer: “Id like to think that BusinessWeek could be completely revamped to be more interactive, more open, more fluid, starting with its online edition. Stories could be more organic, allowing for even higher levels of interaction on Businessweek.com. Citizen journalists could play a role, while even providing a platform for the business subjects. Imagine if a CEO could give us a glimpse behind the scenes of their daily routines?”

Alan Mutter: “[T]he radical idea of urning BusinessWeek into the definitive portal for crowd-sourced business news. The initiative would generate a wealth of original and sophisticated content at zero cost to BusinessWeek, while producing fresh revenues at the same time.” Not that radical an idea (BW does it to an extent with its BW Exchange, and then there’s SeekingAlpha), but maybe radical for BW to adopt.


By Rafat Ali