The Businessweek magazine of today is very different from the magazine just ten years ago. After becoming part of the Bloomberg empire, the renamed Bloomberg Businessweek is a fantastic American weekly business news publication.
I’ll provide my own review to explain the ins and outs of the magazine, the content, and what you get from the last remaining business-focused weekly magazine.
One thing I love about Businessweek is that it is predictable. The weekly magazine can be broken down into eight sections:
1. Opening remarks – Quick commentary on two topical issues that can be best compared to a brief Op-Ed section of a newspaper.
2. Global economics – This section highlights interesting and engaging pieces about the world economy. This is one of my favorite sections, as it focuses on single data points and how they play into the headlines that week. For example, if oil prices are up, you can expect an article on the minimum price various Middle Eastern countries need for their oil production.
3. Companies and Industries – Readers will find business profiles on up and coming businesses and business models in this part of each weekly edition. This section might as well be renamed competition, since it spends a lot of its time comparing rival companies within an industry.
4. Politics and Policy – This is fairly straightforward news on suggested policies from political foes. This section is most interesting during election seasons, but otherwise not that much better than any other news source.
5. Technology – Businessweek’s technology reporting is one of the best outside niche tech magazines. Articles are written with a different perspective than you’d get in a magazine like Popular Mechanics or Wired – Businessweek focuses on what technology can do for business, not the consumer.
6. Finance and Markets – A weekly recap of the biggest deals in the finance space. One part, Bid and Ask, records the largest transactions (mergers and acquisitions) in the past week. This section looks at the big ideas – macro ideas. An article on housing, for instance, wouldn’t be about one homebuilder, but the macroeconomic view of the housing market.
7. Features – Businessweek’s feature stories are incredible, well-written and lengthy articles that will fulfill anyone’s desire for real investigative journalism. There are usually three in each edition, though on occasion the magazine runs a pullout special feature on a huge issue; their features on the budget deficit and battles in Washington are incredible.
8. Etc – A weekly roundup of short articles on what’s happening in sports, pop culture, new publications, and interesting new study results. This section is most fitting for light bathroom reading.
All told, each edition contains 25-30 full-length stories alongside several briefs for a total of nearly 100 pages.
Bloomberg Businessweek’s Style
Businessweek is a no-nonsense magazine. Articles are short, packed with the important information, and usually less than 10-12 paragraphs. Writers also include a single sentence at the end of each article summarizing the content for anyone wanting just a simple and quick overview of the topic.
The magazine also makes excellent use of charts, graphs, and infographics to break up the text. Here’s a an example in a recent piece about CEO succession in which Businessweek uses an image to provide historical context to Ford’s CEO succession plans and their progress. These are littered throughout each article.
This is one of the few periodicals that is written for both skimmers and cover to cover readers. If you’re the kind of person that likes every detail and data point, the content provides insight and depth. If you’re one to pick and choose articles, the graphics and bottom line summaries will provide you a quick 15 second overview of the most important parts of each story.
Daily vs. Weekly
At first, I thought Businessweek’s articles would be stale, disinteresting stories that were simple summaries of every bit of news that had already been published elsewhere days before. That original bias couldn’t have been less true.
Despite being a weekly publication, Businessweek manages to report after the fact but with detail that is lost in daily newspapers, which have to gloss over the details to make a deadline. I find that Businessweek’s depth of reporting and attention to the facts, not stories, is what differentiates it from daily newspapers while still allowing it to be timely when it comes in the mail each week. Writers are sure to at least provide news from a different angle, which makes even “old” news seem new and unique.
All in all, Businessweek is one of the few news sources where in just one hour of reading you can be completely informed on all the actionable business, political, and financial developments as they happen. While I might balk at the $4.95 newstand price, the $.80 price per issue that subscribers pay is ridiculously inexpensive relative to the high quality of the magazine. A subscription should be mandatory for any investor, corporate professional, or small business owner.