Bloomberg to Build Out ‘Business,’ Set Web Strategy

Signaling strong confidence in the print medium, Bloomberg LP executives said they planned to make BusinessWeek bigger, glossier and more international, while exploring a strategy to charge for content on their own Web site.

Bloomberg’s chief content officer Norman Pearlstine revealed the plans for BusinessWeek’s future direction during an employee meeting Nov. 3. He said that Bloomberg would increase the number of pages in the magazine, upgrade the paper stock, double the story count and expand its global coverage, according to a source who was present.

Bloomberg agreed Oct. 13 to buy the struggling weekly from the McGraw-Hill Cos.

As for the Web, Bloomberg plans to keep most of its content free while creating deep, vertical content areas that paying users could access for roughly $100 a year.

Such a plan represents a decidedly different tack from rival News Corp., where Rupert Murdoch has been vocal about erecting pay walls on his Web sites, including The Wall Street Journal’s.

Since the BusinessWeek deal was announced, Bloomberg execs have laid out plans to add Bloomberg to the magazine’s name and charge subscribers more for the magazine.

The changes would move BusinessWeek in the direction of The Economist, for which Pearlstine has expressed admiration and which is envied for its high subscription price, robust circulation growth and strong advertiser appeal.

Pearlstine, who will become chairman of BusinessWeek following the deal’s completion, also said in the meeting that he expects to have a new editor on board by the time the deal closes, which is expected to happen Dec. 1. He also said that Bloomberg’s and BusinessWeek’s ad sales staffs would remain separate.

BusinessWeek’s editor and president, Steve Adler and Keith Fox, respectively, have already announced plans to step down from the magazine after the sale closes. Bloomberg is expected to make hiring decisions about the rest of the BusinessWeek staff by the deal’s close.