Monthly Archives: November 2010
Charlotte-based American City Business Journals announced Tuesday that it is launching mobile applications for all 42 of its business publications.
“We are dedicated to providing comprehensive, exclusive coverage on both local and national issues that affect our subscribers’ businesses and assist them in opening doors and making connections,” said Huntley Paton, executive editor for The Business Journals, an ACBJ subsidiary, in a statement. ”Mobile is an integral part of our growth strategy to deliver a more relevant and convenient experience.”
The app will also be available for the iPad and the Galaxy Tab.
Subscribers to the print edition of the papers will be able to access premium stories from their mobile device.
Kansas City-based Handmark is helping develop the apps for ACBJ.
Read more here.
David Henry, a senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek and one of a handful of business journalists remaining from before Bloomberg bought the publication, resigned on Monday.
Henry was covering banking on what Bloomberg calls the finance team. Some of his stories were used in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Prior to BusinessWeek being acquired by Bloomberg, Henry was an associate editor at the magazine.
Henry came to BusinessWeek in 2001 from USA Today, where he was the Wall Street columnist. Henry has also worked at Forbes, The Jackson Sun, The Nashville Banner, and The Des Moines Register.
In 2002, Henry received a Loeb Award and World Leadership Forum Business Journalist of the Year award in the Corporate Finance Division. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
by Chris Roush
John Ridding, the chief executive officer of the Financial Times, reports that the business newspaper’s iPad application has been downloaded 430,000 times.
Dan Sabbagh of The Guardian writes, “However, only a handful of those downloading the app have opted to pay £200-a-year subscription, which applies to anybody wanting to view more than 10 articles a month.
“Speaking at the Reuters Global Media Summit in London, Ridding said that the FT was growing its digital-only subscription base at a rate of about 500 a week.
“The United States, had become the FT’s biggest market in both print and online, with the iPad continuing to drive growth, Ridding said. The FT has about 189,000 digital-only subscribers, some of whom sign up as part of corporate deals where their parent company pays. Of these, about one in 10 have come through the iPad since the app was launched.
“About 30,000 people have signed up to the £200-a-year deal since April, meaning that about 3,000 will have chosen to pay via their iPad. However, the number of actual FT iPad users will be greater as anybody signing up to access news from the FT.com website also gets access to the Apple-based service too.”
Read more here.
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Fred Russell, the managing director of Richmond-based Virginia Capital Partners, now controls a huge chunk of South Carolina business news.
Last week, Virginia Capital purchased the Charleston Regional Business Journal, GSA Business, the Columbia Regional Business Report and SCBIZ magazine for an undisclosed amount. The South Carolina business publications had been owned by Brown Publishing, which had gone through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy court reorganization earlier this year.
Virginia Capital Partners provides capital and strategic assistance to growing businesses in the South Atlantic region. Founded in 1996, the private investment group has invested in more than 35 companies.
Russell, who has been managing partner of Virginia Capital since its inception, talked by phone Monday afternoon with Talking Biz News about the transaction and his interest in business news publications. What follows is an edited transcript.
How did Virginia Capital get interested in these papers?
We first got active in publishing in the demise of the Internet bubble when at that time it was the deepest ad recession since the Great Depression. Media properties were trading at huge discounts. We got involved with a company that published called Physician’s Practice at a very attractive price. Our belief at the time was that print wasn’t going away, that the Internet would be an important mix, but a demographic would be interested in a print product. We built that product up and sold that to United Media in 2007.
Through that experience, we became convinced that the current ad draw down was similar. Some media properties took on too much leverage and were looking for a home for some of their assets. We bought Virginia Business from Media General in September 2009. It was a title that was well known within the state. It has a great brand and has been around for 25 years. We believe that as the ad cycle turns around, that it will improve.
What we saw in South Carolina was a similar set of properties in an challenging ad market. We are partners with some great people. They have a real focus on unique content, which we think is the key to any media strategy, whether it’s online or in print. You have to have some unique strategy with content, and they have a great staff making content every day. It’s highly local, which the national media can’t cover. And they are localized in ad creation as well. And it’s a great brand. We love the South Carolina market.
What’s the business outlook for these papers? Has the ad market hit bottom?
We are agnostic to the outlook. Our hold period is indefinite, and as a result we don’t when the turn will come. We bought the business for cash, so there is no leverage on it. When you have a long enough hold period and there is no leverage, you hold yourself up to be successful eventually. My feeling is that the turn isn’t there yet. The decline seems to have slowed somewhat. But I don’t think the turn has come yet in real estate advertising.
Does Virginia Capital have an interest in acquiring other business newspapers and magazines?
Yes, wherever we can find great content that suits a unique market that is difficult to replicate and they target a very local niche. Absolutely we’re interested. A lot of the difficulty in today’s market is that you have a lot of news sources that are just replicating the wire services. My sense is that their days are not long. We’ve looked at some newsletters, some weeklies, some B to B.
How much did your investment in Virginia Business play a part in this deal?
I don’t know that it played a really big role. It’s another asset in the portfolio. We like to have about 25 percent of our portfolio in the media business. We sold off a lot of our media properties in 2007 and 2008. Virginia Business was our first new media investment, and the South Carolina business deal is our second. We would hope to add a couple or three more that are filling a niche.
Why South Carolina?
South Carolina is a great market. It’s a beautiful place, and we think it’s going to come back. It will be an interesting time in publishing as some of these conglomerates put some of these properties on the market and entrepreneurs take the helm.
As a business person, what’s your opinion of local business news as compared to business news from The Wall Street Journal?
It depends. There are large national news sources that I won’t name that are nothing more than television news watered down. I wouldn’t pick them up if they were offered for free. But The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal do a great job. And there are tons of unique local news sources that provide a great perspective. We get a lot of our data from blogs that cover a specific market. In some cities in which you have a sleepy daily newspaper, the blogs do a much better job. A lot of these nimble competitors do just fine.
Do you read The Business Insider? [Founder Henry Blodget] frames it in a way you just don’t get in a lot of other news sources. There is someone who has taken national news where you get an edge. I don’t know if would go there to read something detailed or analytical, but it’s pithy and hilarious. There are a lot of opportunities like that. I spend more of my time on the news that I get in my Google reader feed where I select the content that I get.
How long does Virginia Capital intend to hold onto the South Carolina papers?
I think this time it will be a long time. I think there are some structural problems with the economy that will prevent any near-term liquidity event. We almost never think about an exit strategy. If you own a great business run by great people, the exit strategy finds you. This time, it will be a longer hold period. I would be shocked if it wasn’t seven or 10 or more years.
They do some event business that has proven to be reasonably attractive. They have some content that is related to the core publications. In the short time, we’re going to focus on delivering the core product. But in the medium term, we’re going to find some related content that we can expand on and on the long term find some new markets. At the end of the day, we only get a return on our investment if we grow the business.
You live in a city, Richmond, where there is no weekly business newspaper, but there is a site RichmondBizSense.com run by one of my former students, Aaron Kremer. Have you ever thought of starting a business paper there?
The problem with Richmond is you have the Richmond Times-Dispatch that has a Monday metro business insert that is there attempt at doing a weekly business paper. I think it could be done here. As you know, Blue Ridge Business Journal closed in the Roanoke market. I think it would be very tough to do de novo in the current economy. But if you had someone with Kremer’s talent and ambition, you might have a core to build on.
But I don’t think I would want to start one today in this economy. Richmond is a tough market. My sense is that Raleigh is a much more vibrant market with new companies and VC investment. You can really get an edge by focusing on that type of content. Richmond doesn’t have that entrepreneurial backbone and you see the weeklies focus on that kind of content.
I told Aaron I thought there should be other markets that he should be looking at. He’s done a good job of it. He’s got his own angle in creating content that is very intriguing.
by Chris Roush
Simon Denyer, the Washington bureau chief for Reuters, has been named the India bureau chief for the Washington Post.
A memo from Jack Reerink, managing editor of U.S. and Canada, states:
After 18 years at Reuters, Washington bureau chief Simon is leaving to join the Washington Post as its India bureau chief in late January. We’re really sorry to see him go but wish him well. We’ll be advertising for a successor shortly.
Working with specialist editors, Simon reorganized the way the bureau worked and focused resources and people on the top cross-asset stories. A series of successful Reuters Summits have helped raise our profile in DC and Simon’s Washington Extra newsletter has become a must-read for decision makers.
“I feel like I am leaving the bureau in good shape, with everyone working together to focus on our top stories and explain how politics, policy and business are linked,” Simon said.
Indeed, the bureau is pointed in the right direction, aiming to produce distinctive stories that make those connections. Stories that ask the right questions and set the news agenda.
Simon started with Reuters in 1992 covering financial markets in London. He helped set up Reuters Financial Television, working as a correspondent, producer and anchor in London and New York, before returning to text as deputy bureau chief for East Africa, based in Nairobi.
He spent seven years in South Asia, first as bureau chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan from 2002 to 2004 and then as bureau chief, India from 2004 to 2009. He will be moving back to New Delhi in February for the Washington Post.
“I’ve had a fantastic career at Reuters and great opportunities,” Simon said. “”The job at the Post is a return to writing and a return to a region I love.”
Jon Chesto, the business editor of the Quincy Patriot-Ledger, writes about all of the stuff that public relations firms have sent him in a bid to gain coverage.
Chesto writes, “The latest package to arrive here was even hand-delivered, courtesy of New England Development. The new owner of the Westgate Mall is helpfully reminding us that it’s Christmastime – by giving us a bright-red stocking, a tree ornament and a coffee mug with some sort of gleeful gingerbread pattern.
“Looks like another one for the Graft Table.
“That’s my affectionate nickname for the desk in the business department where I try to give away all the PR-related loot that arrives in the mail. After all, I personally can’t keep any of the stuff. That would be a violation of everything we learned in those ethics classes in journalism school (exceptions are made, of course, for any big boxes from The Boston Beer Company).
“Sometimes, I end up with an item or two that no one else wants. Journalists have a low bar when it comes to freebies, but they do have standards. The arrival of the Westgate Mall care package prompted me to take a quick inventory of the leftovers in my mailbag.”
Read more here.
The Financial Times won in the Global Spotlight category for its Alphaville blog. Advertising Age said, “Alphaville moves fast, tailors coverage to what the readers find interesting and doesn’t shy away from something truly foreign to markets coverage: some light-hearted humor. In addition to weighing in on the stories, Alphaville wants to own the conversation around them. In 2008, they launched a forum, The Long Room, where financial professionals (9,300 members) chew the fat over everything from restaurant reviews to financial reform.”
The Journal won for “Best Newspaper Paid iPad Edition.” Advertising Age wrote, “It’s robust but easy to use, somehow both busy and clean, and manages to stay current — as one expects of something connected to the web — yet carry the weight of a morning edition. It pulls off that last trick by offering you either the ‘Today’ edition, which reflects the morning paper’s print edition, or the ‘Now’ edition, which pulls in The Journal’s latest reporting from the web.”
The Journal also won the “Best Business News Online Video Network.” Advertising Age wrote, “The network has been rolling out compelling, smartly packaged series (over the past year: News Hub, Opinion Journal Live, Digits, Media Matters, Markets Hub, The Big Interview and Campaign Journal) at breakneck pace using a worldwide network of reporters and videographers. In essence, an organization known for its inky flagship newspaper has become one of the most nimble web-broadcasting journalistic enterprises anywhere.”
See all of the winners here.
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
It hired Time deputy managing editor Josh Tyrangiel to be the magazine’s new editor and renamed the publication Bloomberg Businessweek. The publication moved from McGraw-Hill’s building near Rockefeller Center to Bloomberg’s offices near Central Park. And the staff underwent a dramatic overhaul, leaving just a handful of staffers from the previous regime.
In April, Tyrangiel unveiled a redesign of the magazine’s interior, focusing its coverage on five subject areas — global economics, companies and industry, politics and policy, technology, and markets and finance.
Since that time, the magazine has undergone some additional tweaks, including a continued shuffle among its staff. And a redesigned Web site is expected to be unveiled in 2011.
Tyrangiel talked Monday by telephone with Talking Biz News about the magazine, one year after its purchase by Bloomberg. What follows is an edited transcript.
What’s been the biggest change in the magazine in the past year?
I think we’ve really gotten back to being a news magazine. We take events as they come, and it’s a minimum 60-page editorial book, which only came about as a result of Bloomberg’s commitment. So there are lots of stories about what’s ahead. In the past five or 10 years, the magazine had shifted to more management coverage, and that’s fine. But the magazine needs to engage in the world and events as they come and find an indispensable place in people’s lives.
What would you still like to see improved?
You can never make a perfect issue. I feel like week in, week out, we are very good. But in order to be great, we have to be incredibly consistent. I would like to have the best story at the best moment. So timing is great. We need to be ready for events as they come. We need to spring into action faster. I like our prose and our writing to continue to improve. We’ve done a lot, and I think the magazine has restored its position in the lives of its readers, but we have tons more to do.
What are you most happiest about in terms of the magazine in the past year?
I will split that into two parts. Internally, we have become an integrated part of the Bloomberg newsroom. Integrations are always tough, but this one went smoothly. We were bringing in staff, and I am new to both cultures. I am happy that has worked out someowhat smoothly.
Externally, I am happiest that we have a good, comprehensive read. You read Bloomberg Businessweek, and you know what’s going on and you can compete in the week ahead. Both of those are strong accomplishments.
Are you beginning to see a turnaround in ad pages for the magazine?
Without being scientific, the books are a lot thicker. I don’t have it off the top of my head, but the magazine is much thicker. Editor’s note: Bloomberg Businessweek reported a 5.2 percent drop in ad revenue to $33 million and a 9.3 percent drop in ad pages to 244.64 in the third quarter, according to Publisher’s Information Bureau, but a magazine spokeswoman says the publication expects to be up in the fourth quarter.
There seems to be more of an edge to the content than a year ago. Do you agree?
I think so. I believe that it’s an extremely competitive landscape, and one of the ways you differentiate yourself is through story selection. Business is everywhere and we’re eager to show that to people, to explain business and why that matters. So that leads us to caste a wider net. We’ve tried to put our foot down on some stories and say we’re going to own this story.
There is no other business weekly. If we stand up and defend the borders of our territory and do stories that are better than anyone else, we’re going to be in pretty good shape. We have to own stories like Ireland. Our group is really eager to do it. By and large, that makes me happy. We’re going to cover it, and we’re going to cover it really well.
One of the biggest fears when Bloomberg bought BusinessWeek was that the content would read like a wire service. But that hasn’t happened, in my opinion.
This is a sophisticated company, and we take first and foremost the user experience. We had to ask who is the user. When you’re reading wire copy, you’re generally sitting in a chair sitting straight up. People read a magazine while they are reclining. The tenets are the same as far as the journalism, but no one told me that it needed to read like wire service.
I hear that the Web site is going to get an overhaul. What’s in store there?
We are deep in discussions about our overall web strategy and how Bloomberg.com and Businessweek.com interact with each other. I don’t want to spill the beans to much about that. But there’s plenty of hard work to get it where we want it to be.
What about expanding the Businessweek brand name into other products, like what Bloomberg is doing with newsletters and other ideas?
You mean like Bloomberg Businessweek Cheerios? I’ve thought about it endlessly. I haven’t thought too much about brand extension right now. I just want to make one great thing. If you make one great thing, everything else will follow.
What can you do to improve the magazine’s performance on the football field? (BGOV, the news service from Bloomberg covering the intersection of business and government, defeated Bloomberg Businessweek 28-21 earlier this month.)
You’re killing me. We have to make sure that Kevin Sheekey follow the rules next time. Sheekey’s interpretation of who works for Bloomberg includes people who work for the city such as off-duty policemen. Without sounding aggrieved, that’s what we’re going to do.
Edgecliffe-Johnson writes, “Lou Andreozzi, a former LexisNexis executive appointed last month to chair Bloomberg Law, said he expected many law firms and corporate lawyers to prefer its flat monthly fee of $450 per attorney to the more ‘expensive and unpredictable’ sums they pay depending on how often they use rival systems.
“He hinted at further discounting, ‘to get people acclimatised to the system,’ but said pricing would not be ‘wildly different’ from the current rate. Mr Andreozzi said there was duplication between the two leading systems – dubbed ‘Wexis’ – and Bloomberg hoped that many clients would replace one of their subscriptions with Bloomberg Law.
“Bloomberg Law, accessible online, is focusing initially on areas such as securities law, bankruptcy, mergers and acquisitions and intellectual property where its parent company can offer news and data.”
Read more here.
Edgecliffe-Johnson writes, “There is ‘a dark, satanic-like struggle’ between information and misinformation, he says, and too many news organisations are financially hobbled, incapable of doing the rigorous reporting required for information to prevail. He dodges a question about what business models might reverse that trend but adds that he still sees room for improvement and growth at Bloomberg itself.
“New York magazine once likened Mr Winkler to CNN founder Ted Turner and Hugh Hefner of Playboy, in having devised ‘a new journalistic paradigm through sheer force of will.’ He rattles off a list of colleagues with whom to share the credit but it is clear that the Bloomberg News culture flows from one man and his rules.
“Bloggers have mockingly chronicled Mr Winkler’s sometimes angry enforcement of the Bloomberg Way, reprinting intemperate memos that lambast loose adjectives or careless tweets. Such stories paint him as a tyrant, running an anachronistically centralised organisation.
“‘Tyranny’s always bad, actually. I’m not a fan of tyrants,’ he comments coolly. ‘You can’t come to work every day and do the things we’re trying to do without a passion for excellence but I don’t believe anger is an effective way of managing. I have learnt over the years we are far more effective by figuring out ways to inspire people.’”
Read more here.