Tag Archives: BusinessWeek
by Chris Roush
Louis Lavelle is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Previously, he was BusinessWeek’s management editor.
Since taking over as the magazine’s business schools editor in 2005, his team has expanded the franchise to include coverage of Chinese business schools and new rankings of undergraduate business programs, part-time MBA programs, the best employers for new college graduates, and the best employers for internships. In 2007 and 2008, BusinessWeek won National Magazine Awards for the B-schools channel on Businessweek.com.
Lavelle is also the author of “Fast Track: The Best B-Schools” (McGraw-Hill, 2008). Prior to BusinessWeek, Lavelle was a reporter at The Record in Hackensack, N.J. In 1998, he won the New Jersey Press Association’s Award for Business and Economic Writing. Lavelle worked at The Tampa Tribune for nearly nine years. In addition, he did stints at The Daily Journal in Elizabeth, N.J., and The Journal-News in Nyack, N.Y.
Lavelle received a bachelor’s degree from Montclair State University in New Jersey and a master’s from New York University.
Next month, the magazine will introduce revamped rankings. Among other changes, it is launching a new web tool that lets people select from more than 100 data points across 200 schools so they can see how they stack up against each other using criteria that matters to them.
Lavelle discussed by email with Talking Biz News about how the magazine covers business schools and the upcoming changes. What follows is an edited transcript.
Bloomberg Businessweek’s biennial ranking of full-time MBA programs dates back to 1988. We were the very first publication to do this and have come to own this space in a way that most other media outlets can’t claim. Every two years, business school applicants rely on Bloomberg Businessweek to make one of the most important decisions they’ll ever make. The rankings serve as a great introduction to the magazine for a new generation of rising young business executives. The trust engendered during the business school selection process makes many of those people Bloomberg Businessweek subscribers for life.
How do you determine the editorial content around the data every year, and then throughout the year?
For the most part, we let the data determine the editorial content. The stories we publish with the ranking are based on the most important developments we tracked throughout the year — application trends, admissions changes, the MBA job market — as well as the thousands of comments made by MBA graduates in our surveys.
During the year we publish at least two to three new pieces of content every day, five days a week on businessweek.com. Much of this is breaking news — there are really very few media outlets that cover the B-schools space as thoroughly as we do — but we also do features, service stories, and the occasional multi-part series. All of our editorial choices are driven by what we think is important, or interesting, for the vast majority of business school applicants, students, and alumni.
How are the rankings changing this year in how the data is presented?
First, let me say the actual methodology we use is not changing. Our ranking will be based on surveys of thousands of MBA graduates, hundreds of corporate recruiters, and the publication record of each b-school’s faculty. However, the way in which the data is presented is undergoing its biggest overhaul in the 24 years since the rankings began. The biggest change is on Businessweek.com. We’re launching a new B-School Finder, which lets you personalize the list based on your own needs. You can compare schools on more than 100 different data points — everything from selectivity and yield, to top employers for graduates.
Let’s take salary for example. You’ll have extensive information on alumni pay, with a level of detail not available anywhere else on the web. For each school you’ll be able to view graduate salaries for those with up to 20 years of work experience. And, you can dig deeper into specific industries, functional areas, and world regions. You’ll also be able to see the top undergraduate institutions, top majors, and top employers for each school’s admitted students.
The other huge change is the look and integration of multimedia. Instead of a dry run-down of statistical data, the information will be presented on businessweek.com as charts and graphs that make it easier to understand. Profiles will have photos, and in the case of top-ranked schools, Bloomberg Businessweek-produced videos to help bring the feel of the campus, classes and students to you. And, last but certainly not least, we help you connect with other applicants and participate in lively discussions through our forums.
Explain the importance of online for the coverage.
The rankings and other B-schools content still make an appearance in the print magazine from time to time, but most of the people who rely on the rankings and our year-round editorial coverage consume them online. This has been true for some time now and becomes more true every year. Part of the reason why people are looking online for this type of content is because the B-school community follows our coverage on Facebook and Twitter, and gathers in our B-school forum to share tips on B-school admissions, advice on the MBA job hunt, and more.
Who do you see as your competition in terms of business school coverage?
Well, in my opinion, nobody covers business schools the way we do — looking at more than 100 different data points and publishing daily articles. However, other organizations that either produce rankings or have editorial coverage in the space include the Financial Times, U.S. News, the Economist, the Wall Street Journal and Poets & Quants. (Editor’s note: The Poets & Quants site is run by John Byrne, who once ran BusinessWeek’s business school rankings.)
How many staffers are working with you on the coverage and the data, and what are their jobs?
We have a core B-schools team that oversees the day-to-day management of the ranking surveys, handles the number crunching and writes B-school specific stories. In addition to this team, we have many others who contribute to the success of this effort, assisting with the design, the technology and the information gathering. Special shout-outs to Alison Damast, Melanie Danko, Katherine Davis, Francesca Di Meglio, Geoff Gloeckler, Tiffany Guidice, Fred Jespersen, Martin Keohan, Jennifer Lee, Ross Litscher, Jennifer Marrero, Brad Rickman and Erin Zlomek.
How has business school coverage evolved in the past decade?
I think interest in business schools — positive and negative — has really exploded in the last decade as an MBA came to be seen early on as a path to untold riches, and later as the source of some of the problems that led to the global financial crisis. The number of rankings, by media outlets and others, has also exploded. The business of business schools has gone global, with top schools opening campuses or partnering with local players in foreign markets, and its gone digital, with more schools exploring online programs. As costs have risen and graduate salaries have stagnated, there’s a greater hunger for information on ROI — there’s no longer an assumption among applicants that a two-year B-school sojourn will necessarily end well. B-school coverage used to be a quiet little backwater; it isn’t any more.
Is the idea to cover business schools like they are a business, or is it still looking at them like an academic institution?
At Bloomberg Businessweek, we’ve traditionally viewed business schools as academic institutions — our coverage is heavy on what it takes to win admission to top schools, land a job with a coveted employer, and the in-between part: the B-school experience itself. It’s all about the student. But that’s starting to change. We now publish stories on the endowments, fund-raising, tuition hikes, new buildings, and other “business” aspects of B-schools. We also write about what I think of as the intersection of business and B-school: developments involving MBA alumni out in the business world, for example.
Do business schools court coverage like some companies, and what do they try to do to get stories written about them?
The extent to which some business schools court coverage would put a lot of top corporations to shame. I get pitched at least a dozen times a day. Every new program, every associate dean, every new faculty hire, every piece of research published — everything gets pitched, no matter how inconsequential. The main thing schools do to get stories written about them is facilitate interviews. If they’re pitching a story about first-year MBAs coming back from their summer internships with job offers, they’ll gladly line-up a half dozen interviews with students.
Where I think a lot of schools go wrong is refusing to supply information. This happens frequently when the information sought might put them in a negative light: starting salaries that are lower than last year’s, for example. Prospective students have a right to know that information, whether it’s good, bad, or indifferent. Schools’ withholding it does them a disservice.
What are some of the issues or strategies in covering business schools that are unique to other types of business news coverage?
I believe there’s what I would call an “optimism bias” in what gets reported about business schools, which is more or less the opposite of every other kind of coverage I can think of , from book reviews to business coverage. The reason is the schools control the message.
I’ll give you a few examples.
When the business school accreditation agency, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, accredits a new school it issues a press release. When it strips a school of its accreditation or puts it on probation it refuses to release the information, and in fact doesn’t even have to supply it to the federal government. There’s an outfit called the MBA Career Services Council that creates standards for reporting MBA careers data — placement, salaries, that sort of thing. It audits schools every year, but it won’t release the results of the audits — so a school could be lying about its placement record, but nobody would ever know.
When the Graduate Management Admission Council recently reported testing volume, the press release mentioned the big increase in global and international testing volume but omitted its biggest market, the U.S., where testing volume was flat. As a result this kind of reporting bias, much of what gets written about business schools is overwhelmingly positive. That’s not going to change.
It forces media outlets like Bloomberg Businessweek to be creative. We now rely on our own surveys of students for some information we used to get from schools.
How do you try to keep the coverage fresh every year when the new rankings are released?
That’s a good question. With some of our other rankings (undergraduate business, part-time MBA, executive MBA) there’s a little more movement than you typically see in the full-time MBA rankings, especially at the top of the list. So keeping the coverage fresh, especially for the full-time MBA ranking, is a challenge. It helps that a lot of our ranking stories aren’t your typical “horse race” stories, focusing on who moved up and who slipped down. They’re broad thematic stories about the current state of the MBA.
So if it’s a year when the MBA job market is down, the story might be a look at the reasons behind it, what schools are doing about it, how graduates are coping, and the outlook for recruiting season; if it’s a year when all the top B-schools overhauled their curricula, the story might take a look at that.
by Chris Roush
The business media use Twitter as a promotional tool and are not building an online community, according to research presented Friday by two Virginia Commonwealth University professors.
Vivian Medina-Messner and Marcus Messner found that the top business media outlets need to use Twitter as an online social network, not just another publication platform. “More attention needs to be paid to community building — use of hashtags, handles, retweets,” the wrote.
Their research was presented Friday at the 11th annual “Convergence and Society” conference at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. The conference, which is organized by the USC College of Mass Communications and Information Studies, this year is focused on business journalism.
The professors studied tweets, retweets, headline tweets, Twitter handle use, hashtag and link use by media and frequency of retweets by audience for nine major business media outlets between July and September. The business media outlets were the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times business section, CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg, Fortune, Businessweek and The Economist.
Of those media Twitter accounts, The Economist has the most followers with more than 2.3 million, while Fox Business has the least with 105,000. However, Bloomberg News uses Twitter the most, while Fox Business uses it the least.
However, nearly 45 percent of all business media tweets are simply headlines, and 99.8 percent simply link to internal links. Only one out of every six business media tweet uses a hashtag, and only one out of every eight is a retweet.
Fortune magazine retweets (one-third of all of its tweets during the study time) the most, while The Economist does no retweeting. Fox Business Network uses hashtags the most, with more than half of its tweets having hashtags. It also tweets headlines the least of all of the business media.
On average, readers of The Economist Twitter feed retweet the most, or about 126 retweets per tweet, while followers of The Wall Street Journal Twitter feed retweet the least, with an average of 3.6 retweets per tweet.
Medina-Messner and Messner suggest that in-depth interviews with social media editors and reporters at business media could help better understand why some business news organizations use Twitter more than others.
by Chris Roush
Peter Coy, the economics editor of Bloomberg Businessweek, has applied for the upcoming open position of governor of Bank of England, at the request of magazine editor Josh Tyrangiel.
Coy writes, “I got to my desk this morning and found a ripped-out want ad from Her Majesty’s Treasury notifying job-seekers that ‘the position of Governor of the Bank of England will fall vacant when Sir Mervyn King retires in 2013.’ On the ad was a yellow Post-it note saying,
you apply …
“How flattering! Well, it’s not like Mervyn King has done such a great job. He kicked off the financial crisis by letting Northern Rock suffer a bank run in 2007, and the scandalous misreporting of Libor occurred under his nose. Maybe, just maybe, I could land this job and be done with the dirty work of journalism forever. (Or maybe Josh was subtly hinting that it was time for me to move on. Still not sure.)
“Anyway, so began two hours at the intersection of central banking and journalistic stuntsmanship, in five chapters.
“CHAPTER ONE: I DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION
“I follow the link listed in the ad, which appears in the Economist, about which the less said the better. The position is buried under 10 other listings, after an opening for an independent claims examiner in Liverpool for the Department of Work and Pensions. Not to be a snob, but doesn’t such an important position deserve more prominent placement? Then I notice that the closing date for the posting is listed as 08/10/2012. Are they trying to throw American applicants off the trail by making them think the opening expired Aug. 10, when it’s really open until Oct. 8? It’ll take more than an obscure listing and an anti-American date format to shake me off.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Joe Pompeo of Capital New York reports that Bloomberg Businessweek has hired a new editor for its Etc. section from Glamour magazine.
Pompeo writes, “Emma Rosenblum, an editor at Glamour, will oversee the closing section, called ‘Etc.,’ which blends eccentric features about business trends and the super rich with listy charticles tailored to the finance set.
“She replaces Julian Sancton, who has left Businessweek just one year after replacing Etc.’s inaugural editor, Jon Kelly, who now works for The New York Times Magazine.
“Prior to Glamour, where she worked as an articles editor and senior editor, Rosenblum spent six years at New York magazine, climbing the ladder from editorial assistant to associate editor.
“She now inherits what has become one of Businessweek‘s more popular components since the magazine’s sweeping 2010 overhaul; with its lighter, off-beat fare, Etc. has that same sort of Sunday Styles appeal that gets readers talking and freelancers clamoring to write for it.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Reeves writes, “Consider that Neil Cavuto has been on the ball for months when it comes to politics — most glaringly covering primary races while competitors at CNBC were airing infomercials. The crusty newshound in me wants to give a fellow journalist props for that … but the reality is that Fox isn’t just doing this out of altruism. It knows that this is its chance to make a splash with FBN and differentiate it from CNBC.
“‘Yeah, yeah,’ you say. ‘Bottom line is it’s election coverage on a financial news channel. People are watching that on the main Fox News channel or CNN anyway, so stop reading into it.’
“That’s actually the whole point of FBN, in my opinion. It’s about giving a specific viewer a place to get a specific flavor of information.
“Critics say that CNBC is ‘real’ markets coverage and doesn’t do as much softball stuff as Fox — but what they fail to understand is that Fox seems to be courting a more Main Street audience by design. It’s not a lack of skill that makes them pick a seemingly simple issue over a complex one, but what I see as a targeted strategy.
“In short, Fox Business isn’t trying to out-CNBC CNBC. It’s trying to out-Fox CNBC.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
The new book from Steve Shepard, the editor of BusinessWeek magazine from 1984 to 2005 and now the dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, is excerpted in this week’s issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, and Shepard writes about the magazine when he took over.
Shepard writes, “Business journalism had fully emerged from the media backwaters, and I was lucky enough to have a front-row seat at some of the great events of our time. With a strong wind filling its sails, Businessweek flourished both editorially and financially. We produced more than 1,000 issues on my watch, some 100,000 stories of varying length, and well over 10 million words. At its peak, the magazine topped 1.2 million in worldwide circulation, and it had built a formidable journalistic machine. With nearly 250 people on the editorial staff, we had more foreign correspondents than Newsweek and a larger Washington bureau than Time. By my estimate, we took in more than $6 billion in revenue and earned at least $1 billion in operating profit during my 20-year tenure — making Businessweek one of the most lucrative magazines in the world.
“Back in 1984, however, I knew only that Businessweek had to change.
“I wanted my first issue to be special, a shot heard ’round the media world. I chose a story for the cover that was already in the works. Two years earlier, two management consultants, Tom Peters and Bob Waterman, had published a book called In Search of Excellence. It analyzed why some companies were excellent performers, including such stars as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Levi Strauss, and Disney, as well as newcomers such as Atari. It even codified the attributes of their success into eight principles. The book became the best-selling management bible of all time, and several companies printed the eight principles on flash cards for their managers to memorize. Businessweek did not review the book when it was published in 1982 because Young had encouraged Peters and Waterman to write it, sharing ideas with them. The book was dedicated to Lew, and he rightly wanted to avoid any conflict of interest.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Alexander Abad-Santos of The Atlantic writes about how The Economist recently chided rival Bloomberg BusinessWeek for falsely claiming that its journalists could be disciplined for drinking spritzers while at work.
Abad-Santos writes, “So, The Atlantic Wire had to ask, what are you guys drinking over there? ‘We love The Economist,‘ Tyrangiel told us over the phone. ‘The truth of the matter is that every staffer here has a spritzer two or three times a day, and contrary to what The Economist wrote, there’s no scolding involved.’
“Hmmmm. ‘It’s mostly spritzers,’ Tyrangiel said by phone. ‘It’s one of the questions we ask before we hire someone and if they aren’t spritzer drinkers we just have to think whether they’re a good cultural fit.’
“So, if Bloomberg is indeed a pro-spritzer anti-scolding office, where could that tip to The Economist have come from? ‘I wouldn’t know who the tipster was. I don’t know where it came from. We have very kind relations with The Economist,‘ said Tyrangiel, who thanked the tipster. ‘One of my great enjoyments in life is a good correction.’
“Because we just won’t let spritzer-gate die, we asked if there was any intention to smoke the tipster out by passing along this rotten spritzer information. Tyrangiel tells us it’s quite the opposite. ‘We invite the tipster down for spritzers to see how we roll.’”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Bloomberg Businessweek has hired Doug Cantor as its tech editor, reports Joe Pompeo of Capital New York.
Pompeo writes, “He replaces Barrett Sheridan, who left to pursue a fellowship at the Columbia Journalism School. He joins the magazine from Popular Science, where he was a senior editor. He also previously worked as an editor at Esquire.
“Cantor is the fourth journalist recruited by Businessweek in the past three weeks. Late last month, the magazine announced three high-profile hires, including one who is now writing for Cantor’s section: Sam Grobart, formerly The New York Times‘ personal technology editor, who had only recently begun a new column for the paper’s business pages.
“The other two poaches were Jeff Muskus, formerly senior news editor at The Huffington Post, who was named Businessweek‘s associate editor for news, and Nick Summers, a senior writer at Newsweek who was hired as a finance correspondent.
“It was unclear whether these recent hires are indicative of some larger expansion strategy at Businessweek, which has been heralded as one of the industry’s splashier success stories since it was acquired and transformed by Bloomberg L.P. toward the end of 2009.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Stephen B. Shepard, the former editor in chief of BusinessWeek from 1984 to 2005, has a forthcoming autobiography called “Deadlines and Disruption: My Turbulent Path from Print to Digital.”
Shepard, who is now dean of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, spends a good part of the book discussing his time at BusinessWeek as well as the sale of the magazine by McGraw-Hill in 2009 to Bloomberg since he was called in by CEO Terry McGraw to discuss options.
Here is an excerpt:
I left BusinessWeek on March 31, 2005. I decided to keep my distance, allowing Steve Adler to take hold, and I made a policy of not commenting on any stories the magazine ran, any changes in strategy or any personnel shifts. He deserved his best shot without any comments from the peanut gallery. I did hear about people leaving, including several I admired, and about changes in approach. But that’s what always happens, I figured, when a new boss takes over. Unfortunately, the editorial direction and design shifted over the next two or three years, in ways I thought weakened the magazine. Though BusinessWeek still published many good stories, including investigative reporting, it was slow to cover major news, especially the tumultuous events developing on Wall Street. There were many fewer big stories about companies and the people who ran them. And Washington coverage was seriously cut. I began to hear a lot of complaints from staffers and outsiders.
The advertising climate soon weakened,and the shift to digital media began hurting many mainstream publications. Within two years, even before the financial crisis exploded, BusinessWeek lost money for the first time since the 1930s. By the time Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, the magazine was hemorrhaging. Operating losses topped $44 million in 2008 as revenue nosedived, and BusinessWeek was on track to lose even more in 2009, perhaps as much as $60 million, according to insiders — an astonishing amount of red ink on revenue of less than $150 million. Other publications suffered too, but few quite as badly as BusinessWeek.
In the summer of 2009, Terry’s assistant called, asking me if I would please come see Terry. We met on July 7 in his large paneled office on the 49th floor of the McGraw-Hill Building. I had been in his office with him many times over the years, but now, in obvious distress, he seemed swallowed by it. A short, handsome man, very much a patrician, he tended to talk in a roundabout way that I had learned to decipher. This time, he was very direct. The situation was dire, he told me strictly in confidence. He was looking to sell BusinessWeek, and he had hired investment bank Evercore Partners to help find a suitable buyer. A public company like McGraw-Hill, he said, simply could not sustain such losses with little prospect of recovery. He asked my thoughts about potential buyers, and we discussed the usual suspects — from equity investors to big companies, such as Bloomberg. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had a vacation house next to Terry’s in Bermuda, had already told him he wasn’t interested in buying BusinessWeek, and Terry was determined, he said, not to sell to a private equity firm that would strip the magazine to nothing. He would rather close it, he told me, and he was prepared to do so.
Though not completely surprised, I was nonetheless stunned and deeply saddened. Terry looked deeply stricken. The scion of the McGraw-Hill family, great-grandson of the founder, he was now in the awful position of having to sell or fold the magazine that had been the crown jewel of the family for 80 years. All I could do was nod in profound sympathy, as if I were at a funeral.
by Chris Roush
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
The three largest business magazine titles — Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes and Fortune — outperformed the overall glossy industry during the first six months of the year, according to data released by the Publisher’s Information Bureau.
Forbes reported as 16.4 percent increase in ad revenue and a 13 percent rise in ad pages for the first six months, while Fortune magazine reported a 10.5 percent increase in ad revenue and a 4 percent rise in ad pages. Bloomberg Businessweek posted a 7.8 percent increase in ad revenue and a 6.4 percent increase in ad pages during the same time period.
In comparison, the overall industry posted a 3.6 percent drop in ad revenue and an 8.8 percent drop in ad pages, according to the data that can be found here.
The best performing business magazine during the first six months of the year was Fast Company, which posted a 24.8 percent increase in ad revenue to $26.5 million and a 19.5 percent increase in ad pages to 294.76.
The worst performing business title during the first half of the year was Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, which recorded a 25.2 percent drop in ad revenue to $8.7 million and a 27.9 percent decline in ad pages to 127.12.
SmartMoney, which Dow Jones & Co. announced last month would be closed, posted a 4.7 percent decline in ad revenue to $16.6 million during the first six months of the year and an 8.6 percent decline in ad pages to 164.03.
In comparison, rival Money magazine posted a 2.1 percent increase in ad revenue to $52 million and a 3.3 percent decline in ad pages to 228.69