Downturn forces business titles to reanalyze matters

The business journalism world has seen significant activity of late.

In the news
The business journalism world has seen significant activity of late. McGraw-Hill recently said it was selling BusinessWeek to Bloomberg for a bargain price of between $2 million and $5 million cash. Fortune reported a 26% ad decline and unveiled a dramatic redesign that involves a shift from 25 to 18 annual issues. And the last of the big three business titles, Forbes, recently had a round of layoffs. Why does it matter?
These moves could be seen as a sign that the business press isn't immune to the woes impacting all of print journalism, but that's not entirely the case. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, recently reported a circulation gain, albeit small.

Yet Ken Doctor, news publishing analyst with research/advisory firm Outsell, says that especially in this turbulent economy, people want their analysis right along with their business news.

"The more reflective analysis [once] found in BusinessWeek, Forbes, or Fortune doesn't stick anymore," he adds. "People have the news. They have immediate explanations from TV journalists, daily columnists, and bloggers."

Doctor isn't writing off these national business titles, though. "Bloomberg got BusinessWeek fairly cheaply," he explains, "but they realize the brand still has great resonance - you just need to use it differently, creating high-end content and then distributing it many times, in Bloomberg's case through its terminals."

Schwartz Communications EVP Dave Close agrees that placements in these big three titles is still important. "Those outlets still reach a smart, influential demographic, just in different ways," he says. "Savvy clients like coverage in the online versions of these publications. It's more accessible."

Three facts:
Viewership at CNBC set records last fall during the peak of the financial crisis, but was off 28% by summer 2009, according to Nielsen ratings

The Wall Street Journal recently passed USA Today as the top US paper in terms of paid weekday circulation at 2.02 million, including print and electronic

Combined, BusinessWeek's and Bloomberg's Web sites would draw more than 20 million unique visitors monthly and generate $60 million in annual revenues

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