OLD Media Moves

Why a new owner won't help BusinessWeek

February 18, 2010

Stephen Baker, a former BusinessWeek writer who was not retained when the magazine was sold to Bloomberg, writes that the magazine’s may not be helpful to its survival in the long run.

Baker writes, “Bloomberg news does not make money. It is not a winning business model. It is bundled into a wildly profitable data service that 300,000 traders and financial pros around the world view as essential. And when they pay their $20,000 a year to rent their Bloomberg terminals, they get the news service, which is very good. But if the news were unbundled from the data feed, how much would those subscribers pay for the news? We’ll never know. But I would bet it would not be enough to sustain the global behemoth with more than 2,000 reporters.

“In a sense, Bloomberg news is like Microsoft’s browser, the Internet Explorer. It’s bundled into a fabulously profitable operating system but would be hard pressed to turn a profit on its own.

“Why does this matter to BusinessWeek? The terminal, which makes all the money, ties BusinessWeek to a legacy. Anything that threatens that core business cannot be tolerated. At a time when print journalism needs innovation, Bloomberg BusinessWeek is shackled. This is most evident in social media. As I mentioned last fall, blogging and crowd-sources stories hardly fit with the needs of the terminal, whose franchise is built upon the speed and authority of its data and news. And since Bloomberg took over, ventures in social media at the magazine have withered, as has the entire Web site. (The BusinessWeek iPhone app, last time I looked, provided little more than a feed of Bloomberg wire stories.)”

Read more here.

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