OLD Media Moves

How bad is it at BusinessWeek?

July 30, 2009

Former BusinessWeek reporter Gary Weiss comments Thursday on the financial data of the weekly business magazine disclosed in an item written by the publication’s own Jon Fine.

First, Fine reported that, “The financial data provided to potential buyers or partners are not for the faint of heart. While certain performance metrics detailed in the initial information provided by the company offer some positive signs—the average revenue figure BusinessWeek netted per print-ad page increased slightly from 2006 thru 2007 and 2008, and is forecast to grow again in 2009 — the ad revenue decline is severe.

“Print-ad revenue exceeded $109 million in 2006 but is projected to fall to $59.7 million in 2009, which represents a decline of more than 45% for BusinessWeek’s largest revenue stream. Total revenues, including those from BusinessWeek’s Web site and offshoot products such as its six-times-a-year magazine SmallBiz, will decline from $181.5 million in 2006 to a projected $135.6 million in 2009, according to the data.”

Weiss commented: “Aw, man. That, if you’ll pardon the expression, really blows. I wonder if maybe McGraw-Hill somehow accidentally switched its financials with those of the most recent repository for my scribblings, Portfolio. May it rest in peace.

“I don’t know what I would do if I were Terry McGraw. Guess I’d hold my nose and sell BW to a private equity house, 80 year history be damned. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, but at least I could hum something like ‘protecting shareholder value’ as I wept bitter tears and, maybe, deep down, expressed regret that I hadn’t hired different people to run the magazine during the last four years. Might not have worked, but I guess we’ll never know.”

Read more here.

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