In McGraw-Hill’s earnings release out today, there was this item about advertising in BusinessWeek, its flagship publication: “Advertising pages at BusinessWeek declined 18.8% in the fourth quarter and 12.8% for the year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. For revenue recognition, there were 50 issues in 2005 compared to 51 in 2004.”
That’s not a good trend. Former BW writer Gary Weiss has a theory as to why it’s happened: “My theory, which I admit is self-serving, is that there hasn’t been nearly enough hard-hitting reporting. Now, anyone who knew me at BW can tell you that I’ve been saying that for quite some time, even when there was a lot of hard-hitting reporting in the magazine.”
Weiss also adds in his blog: “Today, the number of people covering finance is exactly half what it was twenty years ago. The beats have been shifted around a bit. Now there is one person covering Wall Street, one covering banking and finance, one concentrating on investment banking and a senior writer with broader responsibilities. Overseeing them is one editor. Gene [Marcial] is the only survivor from twenty years ago. All good, smart and experienced people. But, still, that’s just half the number that were tasked with covering a less complex and far less journalistically competitive financial beat in 1986.
“When you have fewer people, it greatly affects the ability of the staff to carry out lengthy, investigative projects. And I’d argue that this deficiency shows up in the ad pages. As I said, it’s a vicious circle.”