OLD Media Moves

Why does BW staff favor Wasserstein?

August 22, 2009

Former BusinessWeek staffer Gary Weiss writes Saturday that if the magazine is purchased by Bruce Wasserstein, as favored by the staff members, it poses some interesting conflict issues.

Weiss writes, “I’m surprised for two reasons. The first is that one of the active bidders is Joe Mansueto. He has an association with BW dating back to the 1980s, and he’s done a bangup job as owner of Fast Company. The second — and I’m surprised how little this is mentioned in the coverage — is that Wasserstein’s purchase of BW would pose fairly glaring conflict-of-interest issues. Hello? The head of not one but two major firms (Wasserstein’s own and Lazard) buying one of the three big business magazines?

“Now, I suppose that one could argue that conflict of interest concerns don’t always add up to much in the media business. Remember all the furor about Rupert Murdoch owning the Wall Street Journal? Big outcry, ‘safeguards’ adopted. Hah! It now has Rupe’s thumbprint and nobody gives a damn.

“Back in ’92, Worth magazine was started by Fidelity mutual funds. Initially there was a flurry of concern, but it faded away, and Worth was accepted as an established personal finance magazine. But then the magazine had to be sold off because of a conflict of interest with Fidelity’s growing financial services unit.”

Read more here.

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