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Can ‘BusinessWeek' take advantage of Bloomberg's 1,500 editorial staffers?

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Bloomberg L.P., which today closed on its $5.9 million deal to acquire BusinessWeek from McGraw-Hill Cos., takes over a brand that is reeling from a more than 30% drop in advertising pages this year and a deep round of job cuts late last month.

Reports placed the number of positions eliminated at more than 100, as an estimated one-quarter to one-third of BusinessWeek employees lost their jobs. Bloomberg and McGraw-Hill declined to comment on the exact number of the cuts.

BusinessWeek's traditional competitors Forbes and Fortune have also made cutbacks. Forbes has laid off scores of employees in several waves over the past year. Fortune has also cut staff and scaled back its print frequency.

Forbes and Fortune are clearly in retreat, but BusinessWeek, with Bloomberg's backing, may be in a position to advance. Now securely in the fold at Bloomberg, BusinessWeek will have access to about 1,500 Bloomberg editorial staffers around the globe to help the brand produce original content both online and in print.

“Anybody who has that many reporters out there has an advantage,” said Jeff Dearth, partner at DeSilva & Phillips. “Forbes and Fortune never had that many people out there.”

And Bloomberg has already shown with its magazine Bloomberg Markets that integrating its reporting staff with a print publication can work. The magazine reaches 315,000 readers in the financial industry. Some industry observers, however, have speculated that the company will shut down Bloomberg Markets now that it owns the BusinessWeek brand.

Not so, says Mike Dukmejian, publisher of Bloomberg Markets'. There is “very little overlap” with BusinessWeek's readers or advertisers, he said.

Bloomberg Markets reaches executives and traders at hedge funds, brokerage houses, banks and other financial sector businesses, while BusinessWeek reaches C-level executives in the broad business marketplace, from manufacturing to technology.

“I think they're a business magazine; they reach business leaders,” Dukmejian said, “and we're a financial magazine and we reach financial leaders.”

He added, “When you look at the top advertisers, the top 20 advertisers for both publications, there's not one single name that's on both lists.”

Dukmejian said Bloomberg Markets has performed relatively well this year given the economy and especially how hard hit the financial sector has been. Its revenues are only down 11% so far this year compared with 2008, and the December issue is seeing an uptick of about 15% over the same period last year.

Ron Henkoff, editor of Bloomberg Markets, said that while the magazine has its own dedicated editorial staff, as will BusinessWeek, about 30% of the bylines in a given issue are from Bloomberg News reporters.

Dukmejian said the investment Bloomberg is making in global reporting is a big advantage, because his readers are investing in Brazil, Russia, Singapore and elsewhere around the world.

“If you look at some of the other business magazines, they've cut back and they've basically abandoned the world outside the United States. Not only have we not abandoned it, we've actually as a news organization growing outside the United States,” he said.

That, Dukmejian contends, should help Bloomberg Markets. Time will tell if it also gives a lift to BusinessWeek.

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