OLD Media Moves

Layoffs begin at BusinessWeek

November 19, 2009


Layoffs have begun at BusinessWeek, as many long-time staffers have been told they won’t be moving on with the magazine — or with the wire service — when it is acquired by Bloomberg LP.

Among those leaving are senior writer Stephen Baker and senior writer Steve Hamm, Technology & You columnist Steve Wildstrom, personal finance editor Lauren Young, media columnist Jon Fine and engagement editor Shirley Brady.

Wildstrom, Fine and Brady posted notes on Twitter about their departures on Dec. 1. Fine was already on a sabbatical.

Also leaving are Seattle bureau chief Jay Greene, San Francisco bureau chief Rob Hof and associate editor Heather Green.

Hardest hit appear to be areas where Bloomberg and BusinessWeek’s coverage overlap, such as columnists, as well as graphics and copy editing. The mood on the 43rd floor of the McGraw-Hill building Thursday was funereal, with one staffer describing executive editor Ellen Pollock‘s face as “ashen.”

Baker, who was hired to open a Mexico City bureau in 1987, posted on his blog, “I just took the elevator to the 46th floor and got my termination from BusinessWeek. Bloomberg has not offered me a job, and I’ll be leaving this one, after nearly 23 years, on Dec. 1.

“This was not a big surprise for me. I had made clear my mixed feelings. So off I go. It doesn’t mean I won’t be sad to leave, and today is a wrenching day to be in our offices. People troop upstairs and come back carrying different kinds of envelopes.”

Hamm told Talking Biz News: “I will miss the culture of BusinessWeek, with its smart and collegial people. I think the acquisition is good for BusinessWeek and for its readers because it will keep serious, long-form journalism alive. As for me, please buy my book, ‘The Race for Perfect: Inside the Quest to Design the Ultimate Portable Computer.'”

Wildstrom was surprised by his notice. He said he has “no plans yet, since up until this morning, everything I had heard had suggested very strongly that I would be staying. So I had been devoting my efforts to planning the transition to Bloomberg rather than to the rest of my life — a mistake, of course, as it turned out.”

Brady is the engagement editor. Hired in 2008, Brady came from a seven-year run at now-defunct CableWorld, spending her last 16 months there as editor of Cable360.net. Brady, whose sister Diane is a BusinessWeek senior editor and is remaining on board, oversaw new sections such as Dialogue with Readers, which is intended as a forum for conversations between reporters and editors and readers.

“I’ve had a great time helping BW explore some new frontiers,” said Brady in an e-mail to Talking Biz News. “And I’ve had one of the best gigs in journalism so I was lucky as hell to land this amazing opportunity, and I’m leaving with great friendships, invaluable hands-on experience in a truly unique role, and the utmost respect for BW’s journalism, journalists and the brand’s value within business journalism, magazines and online.”

Before joining BusinessWeek in 2003, Young had a similar beat as a senior writer at SmartMoney. She also covered mutual funds and capital markets for Dow Jones News for three years and was a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal. Young is a 1989 honors graduate of Penn State University, and she received her master’s in journalism from Northwestern University in 1993. She was awarded the 2003 Northwestern University Alumni Assn. Service Award.

Also leaving is Damian Joseph. Joseph is an innovation and design writer who joined the magazine in 2007, after earning a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Joseph told Talking Biz News his plans are to “have a glass of whiskey and watch Karate Kid as I evaluate my options.”

Another leaving is Amy Choi, according to her Twitter post.  Choi is a staff writer for BusinessWeek SmallBiz in New York. She was previously an editor with Women’s Wear Daily and Commercial Property News.

Greene, the Seattle bureau chief, has worked at the magazine since 2000. His first book, “Design is how it works,” will be available from Portfolio, Penguin Group’s business book imprint, in July 2010.

“I get to focus on my book now, which is a good thing,” Greene told Talking Biz News. “I just got the first edit back on my manuscript. I’ll have some time to work on it now. So that’s nice.”

Green started at BusinessWeek in 1997, writing about digital media, the wireless Internet, and consumer gizmos. Prior to the magazine, Green worked for three years at Bloomberg, where she covered the Internet.

Among those staying are assistant managing editor Rob Hunter and corporation editor Matthew Boyle. Senior writer Cathy Arnst will be staying with Bloomberg News. Ron Grover, the Los Angeles bureau chief, says he is staying with the magazine as well.

More to come. If you are a BusinessWeek staffer who wants to share your news, you can send an e-mail to croush@email.unc.edu.

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