BusinessWeek introduces redesigned magazine; Editor Tyrangiel talks change
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
The job facing Bloomberg BusinessWeek editor Josh Tyrangiel since he took over running the magazine in December was to make the weekly glossy more appealing to readers and advertisers.
On Thursday, the redesigned magazine was unveiled, marking Tyrangiel’s biggest move in accomplishing that task. One staff member told Talking Biz News: “I think the redesign looks really fresh and allows us to leverage the strengths of the magazine in a way that the previous iteration did not. I never liked ‘The BusinessWeek’ wrap-up as it started the magazine with old news.”
Another staff member said to Talking Biz News: “The new magazine is more inviting. There’s more emphasis on evocative writing as well as catchy presentation. Making BusinessWeek into a compendium of dry Bloomberg copy would have been a giant error; Tyrangiel leaned in the opposite direction.”
In the past five months, the magazine’s editorial staff has been gutted with layoffs and buyouts, with its content now relying more heavily on stories produced from Bloomberg News, whose parent bought the magazine in December.
Tyrangiel, former deputy managing editor at Time, has been slowly rebuilding the staff, hiring new creative and photo directors and top editors. On Thursday morning, Tyrangiel talked to Talking Biz News about the redesigned magazine and other plans for BusinessWeek. What follows is an edited transcript.
1. What are you trying to accomplish with this redesign?
I was giving a very simple mission, and that was to make a great product. The goal all along has been to create an indispensable business magazine. I feel like the redesign accomplishes that in several ways. It is genuinely comprehensive.
If you are interested in business and read the magazine, you will be prepared. The other thing is that it is seductive. If you want to be exposed, there’s just enough that when you turn the page, you’ll be surprised.
2. What are some of the major changes to the magazine?
It’s truly about organization, and some of that has to do with the sheer number of stories and staff members that we have access to. There are twice as many words and 20 percent more editorial pages in this issue than the last issue. We wanted to structure it well and make sure there’s clarity. We wanted to make sure you could find it what you want.
3. How will this magazine be more appealing to readers and advertisers?
Our readers are the more important part. It’s more appealing because you get more for your money. We are covering the entire world of business. We are doing it in a style that is very ready friendly. We have a prose style, but it is about getting to the point. Every story has a bottom line, which is actual takeaway. Our readers told us they wanted more clarity and depth, and I think we achieved that.
4. You mentioned that the magazine needs to be comprehensive. How does it accomplish that?
It took us a long time to come up with a taxonomy of business. Those five subjects — global economics, companies and industry, politics and policy, technology, and markets and finance — cover the world. We thought about every business story and where they would fit. I challenge you to come up with a story that can’t fit in one of those sections.
5. How will the magazine differentiate itself from Forbes or Fortune?
I don’t really think of them as competition, and I don’t say that out of anger. We are a weekly business news magazine. Those guys have gotten out of the game, for better or worse.
6. How will BusinessWeek content differ from Bloomberg News content?
It’s different in the sense that we have different readers. The Bloomberg terminal customers pay a lot of money to get content that’s specifically focused for them. It’s just as important to do that for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and we’re going to know our readers. Their focus is different. It’s understanding the mindset at which people are approaching our content.
7. How much content will the magazine typically have from Bloomberg writers?
I have no idea. And I am not thinking of my staff vs. their staff. We are one staff. We talk just as much to editors at Bloomberg News as we do at Bloomberg BusinessWeek. With the writers, it’s all about who has the story.
8. What will be the role of Bloomberg’s worldwide resources for the magazine?
It’s amazing. There are 1700 reporters in 146 bureaus and 72 countries. And not only are they covering something specific that they’re the world’s greatest expert on, but they’re enthusiastic. They want to be in BusinessWeek. It increases their exposure, and it opens doors with sources for them. Having that firepower, it’s pretty incredible.
When you’re doing a story in Africa and China, or the U.S. — in Washington we have 170 journalists — the depth of your reporting is so much greater. The challenge, and great attraction of this job, is to get that out there for our readers.
9. What are the specific areas of content that you want the magazine to own?
It came down to picking the entire universe for our reader. Those areas are global economics, company coverage, technology politics and policy, markets and finance. Those are subjects that subdivide very cleanly that you can get everything. We understand that not all of our readers are interested in all of those categories. We want them to know where what they want is available. Our job is to make browsing our magazine very simple.
10. Who do you see as the core BusinessWeek reader?
I think it’s leaders and people who want to be leaders. It’s people who want information to be able to compete.