BusinessWeek redesigns magazine, website

The New York Times reports on a redesign of BusinessWeek magazine and BusinessWeek Online. My first click around the website is positive, however, I don’t have time now to dig in. Maybe this weekend, I’ll take a deeper look.

Here are a couple of instant head-scratchers from the NYT story:

“The Internet has hurt business magazines in particular, and the new BusinessWeek format — which includes more news summaries and fewer lifestyle articles — is meant to be more Weblike.”

What does the following mean: “The Internet has hurt business magazines in particular?” Specifically, what does “in particular” mean? I’d like to be provided the data that backs up what must be conventional wisdom that “business magazines” have been hurt by “the Internet” in particular. The term “in particular” begs for an answer to the question, “Compared to what?” Compared to news weeklies? Compared to newspapers? Compared to all other magazines?

I have blogged here often (continuously) about how the Internet will completely overhaul the role of certain types of business-to-business magazines and how business magazines are no longer necessary as a foundation on which to build a successful business-to-business media company.

However, I’m not aware of the research or data that backs up the conventional wisdom that “business magazines” (like BusinessWeek) have been hurt “by the Internet” in particular. Also, is there a possibility that it was not “the Internet” that hurt magazines, but other factors? (And by “the Internet” I’m not talking about the dot.com bust that killed business magazines — I’m referring to the use of the phrase as implied by the NY Times writer: something about the way in which the Internet provides news and information has “hurt business magazines in particular.”

Second head-scratcher from the NY Times article is this snip:

“The redesign comes from 18 months of planning, including a study of reader preferences. The main conclusions were that people wanted a format that was easier to navigate, as well as information culled from a variety of sources.”

18 months? I could have told them that in 18 seconds. (Sidenote: The gestation period of an elephant is 22 months.)

  • Rex,
    I’d say that newspapers, and not business magazines, are the ones that have been especially hard hit “by the Internet.” They’ve had to deal with Craigslist and eBay, and the erosion of their classified biz. The Internet, of course, is a big part of every equation in the information business. So it’s had an impact on business mags. But I’d say the biggest issues, as summarized in yesterday’s WSJ story, are: The collapse of the dotcom bubble, which led to a fall of tech advertising (much of which has since wandered off into the more measurable and interactive media); Detroit’s woes; and a rethinking of B2B advertising.

    I’d say the Internet has hit us “in particular” only if you compare us to other magazine sectors that appear unscathed, such as fashion. Clearly, luxury advertisers still spend for the tactile pleasures that a magazine can deliver. Outfits like Oracle and Intel are more likely to say tactile schmactile.

  • Rex Hammock

    Thanks Stephen. And thanks for the point to that Wall Street Journal article on the same topic. Unlike the New York Times piece, the Wall Street Journal did a much better job in addressing the current situation among business magazines — and not just in sweeping conventional wisdom statements.

    The redesign of the BusinessWeek and the launch of Portfolio allow us to view two strategies: 1. A re-tooling of a business magazine to be more web-like. 2. A creation of a business magazine with the visual and tactile properties of a fashion magazines.

    In the end, I think there will be lots of advertisers who will not say tactile schmactile.