I have a few friends at BusinessWeek. I imagine each of them is breathing a little easier today after being purchased yesterday by Bloomberg Business News, for a rumored $5 million.
Bloomberg, a news service for financial and business professionals is only 20 years old, but it has grown into one of the world's largest media companies, thriving in a period when most media companies have waned. It employs 10,000 people, many of them business news reporters covering 160 countries via its legendary computer network that often gets business information out in near realtime. It distributes news through a computer-based wire service, TV, video, and audio.
My sense is that this computer network is at the core of the reason Bloomberg is thriving while most media companies are floundering. Bloomberg was born in the Information Age and has no legacy of loving paper. It's significant subscription fees are based on the value and speed of the information it delivers, not on the medium it uses to deliver it.
Another asset, to my thinking, is New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg who essentially owns the network. Because the news organization is not a public corporation, Bloomberg is not obliged to focus on delivering quarterly profits to shareholders. He is free to do what the families who once owned newspapers used to do: focus on longterm strategy and reputation-enhancing activities.
Unlike, private equity companies, that also considered acquiring BusinessWeek, and were likely to chop the organization up, selling it for parts, Bloomberg Business has vowed to buildup BusinessWeek, improving the content. The cloud of massive layoffs appears to be breaking up. The fact that Bloomberg is a candidate for reelection also seems to be a motivation to build rather than dissect.
The new entity is likely to be called Bloomberg BusinessWeek, according to NPR. It is a good name. It merges two brands that are respected in business sectors. Whie plans are currently to maintain the paper format, the owners roots are on computer networks, not large printing presses in the basement and fleets of delivery trucks. We shall see.
I have said this many times: the world will not be a better, smarter freer place if traditional news organizations perish leaving bloggers and tweeters to fill the void. We don't get to attend many White House news conferences. No one assigns us to cover wars or earthquakes. We don't have editors demanding we find second sources and check our facts. We are mostly amateurs who just happen to be there when news breaks.
I am hoping to see a resurgence of what is now BusinessWeek--perhaps as something new called Bloomberg BusinessWeek. I hope the new magazine has the wisdom and vision to braid social media into a resurgent new entity.