Yes, it’s a bit over the top to compare buying a magazine with matters of war but getting the word that Bloomberg’s acquisition of BusinessWeek is official today reminded me of an interview I just heard about President Obama and Afghanistan. Until now, he’s been managing the results of someone else’s war. After tonight, he owns it. Simplistic, yes, and not quite the whole story but it’s the perception. Bloomberg will spend the next months and beyond trying to manage the results of McGraw-Hill’s failures with BusinessWeek — and reap the successes of its branding and high profile — but even before the papers were signed, the company already had taken ownership. That’s perception and reality.
Bloomberg execs chose the people who would make the transition and that act alone is transforming — even though what it is becoming isn’t entirely clear to outsiders. Bloomberg is already dismantling the BW offices and moving the remaining staff into its own spaces. The new BW starts with lower overhead — and vastly different expectations. At McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHP), it had an aura all its own. At Bloomberg, it will be the leading consumer brand and just one part of a very different constellation.
On the edit side, in a shift that shows some of the priorities, Maria Bartiromo, a leading light for cable biz news competitor CNBC, is being replaced as a columnist by Charlie Rose, whose show is on Bloomberg’s own network. Editor Josh Tyrangiel comes from Time Inc., where he worked with Norm Pearlstine, now Bloomberg’s chief content officer and the person responsible for making the acquisition work. Bloomberg already has committed to making BW a “true” weekly with 52 issues a year; hiring Tyrangiel reinforces that and shows a willingness to go outside both news organizations for editorial leadership. But Bloomberg execs have made it quite clear that Bloomberg News E-I-C Matt Winkler is firmly in charge of the editorial strategy; he told ContentSutra in a recent interview that the two have very little overlap but share journalistic values. They don’t share much in the way of style, though, and I have no doubt that Bloomberg’s style will prevail.
It’s Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek now.