The BusinessWeek culture
Joe Weber, the former chief of correspondents at BusinessWeek who is now a Nebraska journalism professor, writes about the magazine’s culture and how it has changed since it was purchased by Bloomberg.
Weber writes, “It was a place whose culture so infused many of us that at times we felt like our first names were ‘BusinessWeek reporter.’ Many of us came to identify so closely with BW that it changed our worldviews. We looked at business, even at life, in different ways, thanks to the values we absorbed, the way we worked and the things we learned at the feet of our elders.
“Even now, as I teach journalism students, I share the values I learned at BW. ‘No story is ever 100% positive or 100% negative,’ I tell them, echoing a mantra I learned from a Corporation department editor. Magazine stories are all about point of view, which is what makes them different from most newspaper accounts, I say, echoing longtime editor Steve Shepard. As you take a stance, he’d add, you must give room to dissenting views, even if minimizing them. There’s no such thing as objectivity; there’s only fairness. And — something I learned from my first BW boss, Todd Mason — when at press conferences, keep your mouth shut and ask your questions of sources privately (why share your ideas with rivals?). Finally, you must be analytical, since you’re not being paid to be a stenographer.
“There’s much more, of course. I use a guide to writing that longtime correspondent Stewart Toy put together to teach students how to write. It’s wonderful for teaching about anecdotal ledes, nut grafs, developing a theme and balancing it with skepticism, and employing the art of the kicker. It’s the kind of thing I wish I had when in college and grad school so many eons ago. And it reflects some of the corporate culture BW developed over the decades since its founding in 1929.”
Read more here.