The New Bloomberg Businessweek: More News for Shorter Attention Spans

Bloomberg BusinessWeek editor Josh Tyrangiel says the 80-year-old magazine is introducing an all-new design intended to pack more information on each page.The fact that Businessweek changed ownership last fall, moving from McGraw-Hill to Bloomberg in a $5 million fire sale, has never been terribly evident to readers, who continued to see more or less the same product.

That changed with the new issue on Thursday. The 80-year-old title now has an all-new design intended to pack a lot more information into each page, according to editor Josh Tyrangiel.

"Our goal is really to deliver the whole world of business that week so that our readers can compete in the week ahead," says Tyrangiel, who came to the job from Time. To make Businessweek -- which, these days, goes by Bloomberg Businessweek -- feel that comprehensive, it was necessary to re-engineer the entire thing.

"We basically have 50% more stories," says Tyrangiel. "It was about creating an architecture for really delivering a lot of information in a way that people can navigate quickly."

Quick Navigation Through Lots of Information

If quick navigation was the goal, the new design succeeds and then some. "Multiple entry points" has been a buzzword in magazine design for some time, but the new Businessweek takes that to a previously unmatched extreme. Just about every story is preceded by bullet points that tease its main findings and then tagged by a "Bottom Line" that summarizes the key takeaway.

If your attention span is broad but shallow, you will find the new format to your liking. (Not that the new stories themselves are shallow -- just that it's now easier to find out what they say without actually, you know, reading them.)

One reason that Bloomberg Businessweek can afford to range so widely now is it's no longer limited by the constraints of its editorial staff -- which, in fact, has been downsized considerably since the sale. Now, the magazine can draw on the full resources of Bloomberg's 2,300-person worldwide newsroom. Tyrangiel says Businessweek's editors are constantly in communication with editors from Bloomberg News to figure out which stories coming out of the latter might work in the magazine.

Reporting to Bloomberg News

It doesn't always lead to results, but that's fine, he says: "My experience with synergy is, if two people enter the room and it doesn't work for one of them, there's a 'no harm, no foul' philosophy. You can walk away."

Tyrangiel also doesn't expect always to see eye-to-eye with his superiors, who include both Bloomberg's editor-in-chief, Matt Winkler, and its chief content officer, Norman Pearlstine. In a slightly byzantine arrangement indicative of Bloomberg's peculiar corporate politics, Pearlstine, who works closely with Tyrangiel on the magazine's editorial direction, reports to Winkler on matters involving Businessweek, even though the two are otherwise on the same level, both reporting to president Dan Doctoroff.

"They're both great editors," says Tyrangiel. "It's really great to be able to talk story with them and rely on their counsel. We have good, productive arguments that sometimes get us to places I wouldn't have gotten on my own."

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