BusinessWeek’s decision to drop their European and Asian print editions while newsworthy, is not surprising, imho, since they’ve demonstrated over the course of this year their responsiveness to the changes taking place in global media and technology. One could, not quite tongue in cheek, say that they are leading the mainstream media giants in innovation, nimbleness and redesign of business strategy.
In order to most effectively meet current business and customer needs and to strengthen the franchise for future growth, BusinessWeek announced today that it will reposition its approach to global markets. […]
"We have decided to create robust, customized Asian and European versions of our popular BusinessWeek Online Web site, while delivering a single global edition of BusinessWeek magazine instead of providing separate regional versions," said Stephen J. Adler, Editor-in-Chief of BusinessWeek. "We are taking this action to harness the growing power of the Web globally and to serve readers and advertisers in a more timely, efficient, and targeted way."
I’ve been tracking the changes at BusinessWeek since July 2005, and I’ve italicized some key points from their press release above. Before I go on to add my 2 rupees, however, I’d like to highlight some other facts that I’ve noted on the changes taking place in mainstream media. From Chris Anderson’s Long Tail post titled "Mainstream media meltdown II" are these datapoints from early November 2005,
- Magazines: Ad revenues are up a bit although the number of ad pages is flat (they’re charging more per page). Circulation is also flat, while newsstand sales are at an all-time low.
- Internet advertising:
–Banners: Up 10% this year
–Keywords: Google revenues up 96%
While Steven naturally comments that it is "a difficult day" at BW, I’m far more impressed and optimistic of their future, and the articulation of their vision. As Chris Anderson’s statistics demonstrate, the reading public or the "info gatherers" turn to the web first as their primary source for news and information. This is not news, and many others, far better than I have articulated these shifts.
What is interesting however is BW’s response. Perhaps the first leading publication to embrace the changes and incorporate them into their corporate strategy for the future, BW demonstrates their willingness to implement what they preach to their readers. Note the phrases I’ve italicized from their press release,
"meet business and customer needs",
"strengthen their franchise for future growth",
"resposition it’s approach to global markets"
A user centric response to corporate strategy within the context of the growing importance of the blogosphere, citizen journalism, global interconnectedness and immediacy of information? I would certainly have to say so. As corporations spread their influence across the various regions of the world, it actually makes far more sense for BW to have ONE print edition, a global one, that serves all markets, and in doing that, underscores the "flat world" theory of business. This move supports what they’ve been seeing all along, that business isn’t seperated into "Europe", "Asia" and "N.America" anymore, and that little butterfly flapping it’s wing over Taiwan could have a very relevant impact on the air currents over the Caribbean – to mangle a favorite metaphor.
Add to that their initiatives in the blogosphere over the course of this year, and compare their approach to the recent furor by Forbes regarding "attack of the giant bloggers". I’d lay my bet on BusinessWeek as a pioneer for exploring and developing new business models amongst the denizens of traditional media who wish to grow and evolve, like any other business, in the face of increased competition and changing paradigms.
What is that old saying? Most people don’t like change, change doesn’t much care. You can defend, like Forbes did recently, against perceived threats and challenges to the status quo, or you can embrace them, like BusinessWeek is doing, and ride the waves. Kudos.