BusinessWeek Tries Pay Model Online

In the latest online paid content experiment by a publisher, BusinessWeek will create a special presentation of its print magazine content that will only be available to subscribers. Roger Neal, general manager of BusinessWeek.com, said that while the magazine’s content will be available on the site for all to see, subscribers will get a different experience of the print content online.

Neal said the subscriber-only view would be print-like in presentation. He said the goal is to serve both paying and nonpaying readers by “making all our content available to Internet users but still providing a special privilege for print subscribers.” Users will get other benefits, like instant access to the print content online.

The new paid/free strategy is part of a site relaunch in July which will consolidate its many channels into three focused on breaking news, analysis and community. The last one will include Business Exchange, the site’s recently created business social net. New and more ad units also will be offered. Underlying the changes is a new tech platform designed to enable real-time site updates, Neal said.

More broadly, the site redesign is part of the McGraw-Hill Cos. weekly’s answer to the question of how to differentiate online from print. While the site emphasizes breaking news and community, the magazine is focusing on stories that are forward looking and actionable, as the title will try to do with its summer double issue, which makes the case for “rational optimism” about the economy.

Editor in chief Stephen Adler said that while he’s encouraging contrarian coverage of the recession, being forward looking shouldn’t be mistaken for seeking to put a positive spin on the news. “We don’t put our work through a screen—is this positive or negative,” he said. “Part of our DNA is to be skeptical, and skepticism in a downturn is about being open to the possibility of a turn.”

BusinessWeek isn’t alone in trying something different. Time Inc.’s Fortune has put more emphasis on advice, as exemplified by recent cover stories “How to Get a Job” and “You Can Still Retire Rich (Really!)”. The Economist is adding new events to its cross-platform ad offerings. This fall, it’s spinning an event off its annual outlook issue, The World In. With its new Total Guarantee program, Forbes Media is promising Web clients specified reach within certain target audiences.

But The Economist also is hedging its bets with non-ad supported media. In the coming months it’ll test Intelligent Life, the luxe quarterly it publishes in Europe. But given the dearth of luxury advertising, it won’t seek ads. Instead, U.S. subscribers will be offered the magazine at $10 an issue.