BusinessWeek's recently named editor in chief, Steve Adler, has a pair of tough challenges. Not only must he preserve the quality standard set by industry legend Stephen B. Shepard, but Adler must lead the 75-year-old title into a world where the audience is won in a to-the-minute, 24/7, multichannel competitive environment.
"I think Steve Adler would be the first one to say that no one can replace Steve Shepard," said Bill Kupper Jr., president of BusinessWeek Group. "But someone has to follow Steve Shepard, and Steve Adler is the right guy at the right time for BusinessWeek."
Shepard spent 32 years at BusinessWeek, including 20 as editor in chief, before leaving this year to become founding dean of the new Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York.
Adler was up against several inside and outside candidates for the chief editor's position. It was his particular mix of online and print experience with The Wall Street Journal that made him "the ultimate choice," Kupper said.
Adler rose through the ranks during his 17 years at the Journal, becoming deputy managing editor in 1999 and adding the title of editorial director of WSJ.com in 2000. Adler said in an interview that the print Journal and WSJ.com had separate editorial teams until management decided the staffs should be more integrated and that online editors should report to one of the deputy managing editors of the Journal. Adler was chosen for the job.
"Here at BusinessWeek, I'm in a similar position," Adler said. He oversees all content of the print weekly, which has a worldwide circulation of 1.2 million; the Web site, with 3.8 unique visitors monthly, and a nationally syndicated, weekly TV program.
With Kathy Rebello, editor in chief of BusinessWeek online, reporting to him, Adler is starting to break down walls between the print and online staffs.
"We're developing story ideas for all channels simultaneously, including TV," he said. "We're organizing around the thought that we're a 21st-century multichannel organization."
Adler joined BusinessWeek in January, where he observed Shepard before taking up the day-to-day responsibilities in late February. Adler appeared on the March 14 masthead for the first time as editor in chief.
"These are challenging times for all news organizations, as the Internet, cable TV and even cell phones and PDAs become news providers. There's simply an awful lot of noise out there," Adler said. "In such an environment, serious businesspeople have an even greater need for information and insight they can rely on and act on. That's the business BusinessWeek is in. But we must also commit ourselves to bringing that journalism to customers in whatever medium they choose, with the same commitment to quality in every channel."
New York-born Adler has undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. He began his journalism career reporting for the Tampa Times and Tallahassee Democrat in Florida. In the 1980s, he was editor of The American Lawyer and later editorial director of the American Lawyer Newspapers Group before joining the Journal in 1988.