OLD Media Moves

The changes in working conditions

July 19, 2009

Stephen Baker, a senior writer at BusinessWeek, writes how the magazine put him in a bureau when he was hired in Mexico City and gave him more salary than he asked for. That will likely change if the magazine is sold.

Baker writes, “Looking back, I understand that it seemed vital for BusinessWeek’s stature at the time to have formal bureaus, even nice looking ones where sources could come for interviews. It was part of the image of a magazine, one that could command many thousands of dollars for a page of glossy advertising.

“Despite my early confusion, it didn’t take me long to enjoy these perks. In time, I got sent to Paris, where we had a beautiful office overlooking Avenue Friedland, just a few blocks down from the Arc de Triomphe. Thanks to generous rent subsidies, we lived in a spacious apartment a stone’s throw from the Bois de Boulogne. The company paid for private school. It was a good run, and there were lots of great stories to cover.

“But in the end, my initial read turned out to be correct. The rich model for a weekly magazine was not sustainable. Those who want to be foreign correspondents today will be lucky to get what I expected: modest pay to work out of their apartments. It will attract mostly young people, which isn’t a bad thing. (They might ask more unschooled questions, but they’re more likely to move to the action and take chances.)  It turns out we rode something of a Madison Ave bubble for a few decades, and now it has popped.”

Read more here.

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