Bloomberg Businessweek is unveiling a relaunch on Thursday — seven months after revealing other major changes to the title.
The print weekly, which the company bought from McGraw-Hill in 2009, was viewed as somewhat of a loss leader that nonetheless garnered a good deal of attention for playful covers showing a sensibility that set it apart from the straightforward style of news stories meant to be read by the financial world on Bloomberg Terminals between trading.
In mid-November, Businessweek editor in chief Ellen Pollock, who had replaced Josh Tyrangiel the previous year, left (she has since gone on to become the editor of The New York Times’ business section) and was succeeded by Megan Murphy, a former Financial Times reporter who ran Bloomberg’s Washington, D.C., bureau during the election.
Since Murphy took the reins, changes have included integrating the editorial staff into the Bloomberg newsroom and turning luxury title Bloomberg Pursuits from a stand-alone print magazine into a digital property. As part of Businessweek’s new look, Pursuits will be integrated into the print product. To coincide with the magazine’s relaunch, it rethought its digital presence, which includes a redesigned app and an afternoon newsletter. Additionally, Pursuits will become the back of the book for the weekly magazine.
Murphy talked to WWD about her transition to editor in chief, running Bloomberg’s D.C. bureau and what to expect from Businessweek:
WWD: How will the magazine change?
Megan Murphy: There were very clear ideas about making the design clearer and simpler. The most important thing was to take the book and make it a more premium, upmarket product. We are not blind to the fact that print advertising is not so great, and is declining. But we still very much believe in the value of a print magazine and what that can deliver for readers….If you are sitting around on a Saturday, we want to be there. Look at the brands that have been successful at setting up paywalls, whether that’s the FT or The Economist or The Wall Street Journal or The New Yorker — we believe that we are in that space. I just don’t believe that we have showcased that we are in that space as much as we could have. And that’s a big part of the relaunch, to make sure that people know just how premium our content is. We also need to be relevant on a daily basis, which is why we redid the web site and app.
WWD: What was it like being Bloomberg’s Washington Bureau chief during the election?
M.M.: It was a tough situation — and I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school by saying that. The political venture at Bloomberg was incredibly bifurcated. There was a New York operation, there was a Washington operation. There was no cohesive vision for what kind of coverage we wanted to do and a lot of the staff were fairly junior, so much of that job was organizing those reporters to cover the election. It was intense. I would get up and start on TV at 5:30 a.m., because the TV person left and we never hired a replacement. And then we’d still be line editing at 11 at night.
WWD: And what was it like to go from that to being the editor in chief of Businessweek?
M.M.: The transition was hard. It was a situation where we had made this change and made it fairly rapidly after the election, and people were kind of grappling with this new reality. These people didn’t know me from Adam. And oh, by the way, we are asking you to keep doing the book but also radically reinvent the vision of what you are going to be in the future. So I am really so grateful for the way that people just put their heads down and did the work and got this done.
One of the things we did first when I came in as editor in November was that we moved the reporters at Businessweek onto the teams at Bloomberg. That’s designed to better leverage what we have at Bloomberg. We want to use those assets.
WWD: What about Pursuits, which will now be the back of the book?
M.M.: I was always a big believer of Bloomberg’s ability to expand in the luxury space because it’s just a no-brainer for our brand. I think Emma [Rosenblum] and Emma’s team does it a lot differently, in that they tell these luxury narratives in a very beautiful, compelling way that is a natural fit for what we do at Businessweek. Look, we all work really hard and the world can be a difficult place. So we want to give people a little bit of escapism at the back of the book.