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What Went Wrong With BusinessWeek? ‘Culture,’ Offers One Genius

So what went wrong with BusinessWeek to land it in such troubled waters? Bruce Nussbaum, contributing editor to BW through his blog NussbaumOnDesign, offers this “genius” insight: culture, and how the mag lost “deep contact” with its readers. That the enormous amount of surveys on what readers wanted misled the mag. Yeah, really, if that was the only issue at mags such as BW, then “innovation gurus” like Nussbaum would have solved the problem by now, wouldn’t they? Watch this video to realize all what is wrong with BW: such moronic navel gazing is exactly the problem. The Sisyphean challenge and irrelevance of these biz mags is becoming clearer by the day….

9 Responses to “What Went Wrong With BusinessWeek? ‘Culture,’ Offers One Genius”

  1. I do not know the relationship between Newsweek and Businessweek but Newsweek is an absolute misfire disaster in my book…

    Newsweek, especially their links on MSNBC are annoying with the "Why…" or "How.." type of headlines that suppose to grab me – how much they paid the smart executive/consultant to think of that?

    Here are the headlines from Newseek:

    <i>"Why Obama scotched the antimissile program"

    "Where Have All the Peaceniks Gone?"

    "The Case for Killing Granny"</i>

    These type of headlines are annoying and insulting to intelligent readers out there.

    I think Newsweek is a much bigger disaster because they trivialize headlines and attempt to play savvy readers (who willing to pay for content) for stupid and gullible.

  2. Betty, truth be told, I am an ex- BW employee but I didnt run in to any dimwits while at BW, and what media company isn't ailing today? It's easy to pile on and kick a brand when it's down, as you and the author of this snipet are doing. BusinessWeek remains a great product and we can rest assured that new ownership will insist on injecting the right amount of ROI culture that McGraw-Hill just could not.

  3. Cara Erickson

    Bruce is right to raise the C word. Culture is clearly the issue, facing BW and other media companies I've worked in and with. What makes some more successful than others is the willingness to experiment, bring in people with new DNA and skill sets, stick with the program, empower the people who can help get a business out of its comfort zone, and embrace change. That's the lesson of these last 15 years, when new media was truly 'new.'

  4. He is mostly correct. I am an old media guy who became a digital guy 12 years ago then I spent 4 years in digital at an old media magazine publisher. Yes they have huge huge huge cultural problems.

    Most are in complete denial of the on coming train wreck. They are deer in headlights. Most have no interest in or respect for digital and really wish that it was all a bad dream. I am not exaggerating.

    But that is not really the cause. The simple cause is that the wonderful old media business was a high margin mostly fixed cost business that has seen its margins explode over the past 30 years of increasing audience and CPMs. Three brands essentially controlled the business print world. Power, pricing, prestige…great businesses.

    The dispersion of information, not just social media, is ending that monopoly and with it comes declining circulation, declining pricing, declining pricing power (two different things), and finally declining prestige. It was expedited by the end of corporate image advertsing in 2000.

    This all has run head long into the essential fixed costs and other cost issues.

    The direction of editorial, though I would agree marginalized the publications' value, was not the root cause.

    The root cause is the dispertion of information and the increasisng speed of electronic information. Nothing you can do about that.

    I was a dedicated Forbes subscriber for about 12 years, but quit in the late '90's. Just no time and too many other sources. About the same time I got my first PC.

    A more accepting digital culture and a more genuine editorial might help hold back the tide for a while, but will not stop the flood.

  5. BusinessWeek continues to be one of the most relevant and useful magazines in the market today. Clearly written, objective and provides me with a very comprehensive view of the business climate. It will survive the latest speed bump and thrive for years to come. Bruce Nussbaum and the rest of the edit staff are not at fault, they do a great job and provide me with an invaluable resource.

  6. Cut Bruce some slack. Chances are he'll be out of a job soon, middle-aged, and still baffled at the speed with which the cosy, comfy office relationships that saw him elevated to in-house innovation guru turned so sour so quickly. If he can't bring himself to look at the recent past and figure out what really wrong, leave him in peace to work on soothing, self-assuring excuses.

    One tip, Bruce: Contact your old pal Kathy ("my other personality is Kiki") Rebello. She may have a vacancy at the basketweaving collective. You can innovate your head off, old boy, in like-minded company!