BW And Bloomberg Marriage Not So Bad, Relatively

If you’re a BusinessWeek staffer, you’re on tenterhooks right now as you wait to see whether you’ll still have a job after new owners Bloomberg take over.

But, as Peter Kafka reports, it could have been much, much worse.

If rival bidder ZelnickMedia had taken control of the mag (which it thought McGraw-Hill would pay it to do), the magazine would have been gutted, which we knew. What nobody knew was the extent of the damage.

ZelnickMedia planned to:

  • Wind down BusinessWeek’s print business “as profitably as possible”–the company would have to honor existing subscriptions and could still sell ads in the magazine. But the focus would be on building up BusinessWeek’s Web site, which has a decent-sized footprint, though not a huge one.
  • Dump almost all of the company’s newsgathering staff and outsource most of that work to Thomson Reuters (TRI).
  • Employ a small handful of editorial employees–perhaps 20, down from the 200-plus who are there now. Some of them would run a Huffington Post-style aggregation site that produces no original content, and some more expensive hires would produce a smattering of high-quality reporting and writing designed to burnish/sustain the BusinessWeek brand. “Just to give it uniqueness and sizzle,” my source tells me.
  • Dump most of the existing business side, as well, but overhaul and bulk up the sales force.

Check out Kafka’s story of near-averted media tragedy here.