OLD Media Moves

Murphy named Bloomberg Businessweek editor; revamped magazine in 2017

November 17, 2016

Posted by Chris Roush

Bloomberg Businessweek 2015Bloomberg editor in chief John Micklethwait and Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith sent out the following announcement on Thursday:

To everybody in Bloomberg Businessweek from John Micklethwait and Justin Smith,

We know that Ellen is talking to many of you about her departure from Bloomberg Businessweek. We have booked some time to speak to all of you at 4pm today. But we wanted to provide some background and context to the changes that are taking place – and also pay tribute to Ellen.

Since Bloomberg acquired Businessweek in 2009, you have made the magazine into one of the smartest brands in global media. Bloomberg Businessweek (BBW) has regularly landed exclusive interviews with global business and political leaders, as well as delivering investigative pieces that changed the course of companies and global business. It has published some wonderful journalism and many of you have the awards to show for it.

Ellen has been at the very center of this. She joined the magazine two years before we bought it, after 18 years at the Wall Street Journal. As editor, she has helped oversee some spectacular stories, from Baltimore’s surveillance city to “How to hack an election”. She has been a mentor and friend to many of you. We understand why you will miss her.

Brad Wieners, Ellen’s deputy, sadly has decided to leave the company, too. They are both wonderful journalists who have done a great job producing a high-quality magazine. But we are now moving in a new direction.

To step back, BBW, for all its successes, faces some deep challenges. The magazine is not integrated enough into the rest of our editorial operations. And BBW’s business model has also not evolved as quickly as the market around it – and does not have enough of a focus on digital innovation. The revenue model is still too reliant on declining print advertising rather than digital or multi-platform subscriber revenue. We don’t feel that the franchise fully reflects the scale of Bloomberg’s global presence.

However, there is also an opportunity with this. We have both spent much of our careers helping to modernize magazine brands. We worked together here on the new redesigned Markets magazine, which has brought in readers and revenues. We are convinced that we can embark on an exciting new phase in BBW’s storied 87 year old history – by transforming both its editorial mission and its business model. We hope to do that not just in print, but on the web, in a daily App and through live events.

We need your help to do this. Our plan is to launch a new version of BBW towards the end of Q2 of 2017. Until then we will continue to publish BBW in its current form, with the help of all of you – and to the same high standards.

Working out the exact details of this new BBW is the job of the next few months. But we are already clear that it requires deep change. Editorially, we want to integrate BBW’s journalists more deeply into the rest of the newsroom. Our content needs to become more targeted on business and finance, more global and more digital, with daily offerings of news, insights and analysis that help readers understand and compete in the world. And the commercial model will also change. BBW will remain our broadest business brand. But we will dramatically sharpen its utility and value to readers.

What will emerge from this will be very different from the stand-alone magazine you all write for at the moment which Ellen has led so diligently. As we will explain later, many of you will soon report to different beat editors, and, once we have unveiled the new magazine, the central editorial team may well be smaller.

To lead this effort, we have today appointed Megan Murphy to be the editor. Megan has done an extraordinary job as our Washington Bureau Chief. She has a rich background in digital finance journalism both here at Bloomberg and at the FT, where she set up its digital service, FastFT. She will bring the same passion to BBW that she has to the job in Washington. Otis Bilodeau will be her deputy, bringing 13 years of experience at Bloomberg. He has spent the past year integrating television into the broader newsroom.

We’re delighted that Kristin Powers will remain as BBW’s managing editor and oversee the production of our three magazines. She will play a key role in BBW’s transformation and also take on a broader digital role as the magazine becomes a true multi-platform product.

We will also be adjusting the commercial leadership of Businessweek by creating a new Publishing Director role that will include a greater focus on consumer marketing (especially digital subscriptions) alongside advertising revenue. We expect someone new to join soon to serve as Megan’s business-side partner in the same way as Scott Havens works so well with Jed Sandberg on the web.

We think that there is a really exciting, secure future for BBW. We hope that you will help us build it over the coming months, as well as continuing to produce a great magazine. We look forward to discussing these changes – and the exciting future we see ahead – in person later today.

John and Justin


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