Josh Tyrangiel, Editor, Bloomberg Businessweek:
At his magazine things are much better than they were. Greatest weapon is not taking things for granted.
Started in 1999 at Time, which was considered the “top” magazine. Had 450 editorial employees, but 7 years later this fell by about two thirds in all numbers. And Time did better than most magazines. The last decade was brutal for print. Partly because many mangazines and newspapers had fallen into a malaise – just kept on cranking it out and didn’t recogize the digital era. Many of the titles that died in the past decade died because they were swamped by “better”.p
Bloomberg bought Business Week and wanted a new team to take over. The magazine wasn’t worth the money and was “spooked” by the web. McGraw Hill had stopped investing in the magazine in a menaingful way. He was given the job of “making it great” and given a blank canvas. Focused first, in rebuilding it, on what print can do that the web can’t. Print is a captive experience and an emotional and tactile product. But need a reason to open the magazine in the first place. It must be made indespensible. It must be comprehensive. A weekly is not really a news source as they have been suprseded by other sources a long time ago. There is magic in storytelling and photography and this has to be carried into the magazine, even though it is hard to put finger on just what the magic is. Tossed “market research” into the waste basket and decided to decide on what the editors thought was “good”. Need an important creative director to make the magazine a “surprise” every week.
Needed to change the value proposition. A magazine is not the subscription price, but need to earn the cover price every week. People will look at the cover price and decide whether it is worth the money. Believes that the world is not tired of print, it is tired of crappy print.
Take nothing for granted. Have to fight for your right to exist each day. Market research never re-invented anything. The publisher must be the reader. No place in their business left to hide – readers will look at you and compae you to others and you must be better in every area.