Bloomberg BusinessWeek Cuts the Guruspeak

Capital New York takes a quick but revealing look at how and why Bloomberg BusinessWeek has revolutionized the business magazine, reporting on a visit by Editor Josh Tyrangiel and creative director Richard Turley to Columbia.

Here’s Joe Pompeo on how BizWeek has upended magazine design:

It’s a familiar design trope for business magazines: In the foreground, looking commanding, is a man (however physically appealing or unappealing) standing upright in a dark suit with his arms crossed. Soaring behind him, or beneath him, or on a table next to him, is his new building, his vast vineyard or estate, his sprawling factory floor, or his epoch-making invention.

This is not what Bloomberg Businessweek wants.

This quote makes me even more impressed with Tyrangiel, who in a very short time has turned BusinessWeek into far and away the best read of any business publication (emphasis mine):

“There was a lot management guru bullshit, to be honest” he said of the magazine’s previous incarnation under McGraw Hill. “A lot of stuff about finding the best you, and I just thought, that’s insulting.”

Instead, Tyrangiel took Businessweek in a newsier direction at a time when its core subject matter—money, finance, economics—had become one of the most important threads in the news cycle.

“They’d gotten out of the news business,” he said. “They’d really focused on this kind of middle management, how do you get ahead. And this is in the middle of a financial crisis. … The magazine had been so fat and so rich that people believed the audience would read it out of obligation. And nobody reads out of obligation. You have to argue for your right to exist.”

I reckon Tyrangiel is talking about Jack and Suzy Welch’s terrible weekly column, which was dropped first thing:

Most business editors would be enthralled by people like Neutron Jack. That Tyrangiel is not is just one of the reasons his magazine is far better than Fortune and Forbes.

It’s actually a pleasure to get the magazine in the mail each week to see what they’ve done with the cover—both artwise and in story selection. When’s the last time you said that about a magazine, much less wondered whether a biz rag would show jetliners having sex?

I had zero interest in the recent travel special issue until I flipped through the magazine. I ended up reading every story, which included pieces by Pico Iyer on road life and Geoff Dyer on hotel bars, a pretty good story on super high-end concierges, and an interesting piece about how Lufthansa’s flight to Bangalore has turned into something of a cocktail party for business travelers.

The last thing you’d say about BusinessWeek these days is that it’s hidebound. I have to read a lot of business journalism for this job, obviously, and much of it’s a chore. Not BusinessWeek.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,