Bloomberg Businessweek Editor sees multiple paths to profit for news

Tuesday, March 5, 12 p.m. | Taubman 275

Josh Tyrangiel and Alex Jones

Josh Tyrangiel and Alex S. Jones.

March 5, 2013 – There isn’t a single “path to profit” for newspapers and magazines, said Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel at Tuesday’s Shorenstein Center event. However, Tyrangiel noted that the future of journalism will rely on many different styles and models integrated with each other.

Historically, Tyrangiel said, Time magazine and other publishers operated under the notion that no matter the quality of the content, “on the demand side, readers had an obligation to read” their magazine. Tyrangiel always disagreed with that, he said, and when distribution models changed, it became clear that rather than out of obligation, readers read “ to find out what is going on at any given moment, and particularly on the web, they read to become smarter and to save time.” The failure of many news organizations to understand this dynamic has been at the center of the “disruption” in journalism on the web, he said.

Bloomberg Businessweek is financed by Bloomberg LP’s successful trading terminals. It has proven to be a sustainable business model for Businessweek, but Tyrangiel said it wouldn’t work for everyone. It’s one of many profit models for journalism, he said, but from The New York Times to Andrew Sullivan, different models are needed to fit each individual news organization, large or small, independent or corporate.

“The one currency I can control is the amount of time people spend with us,” Tyrangiel said, and so he tries to “rigorously understand” what people want on every platform. Long-form journalism is important for the print magazine, but it doesn’t work on the iPad app, he said. In addition, news outlets can be too widespread to produce quality journalism. “I want to defend our turf, to execute within that realm as well as possible in every possible medium.” With that mindset, Tyrangiel said, “the rest of this is going to sort itself out…and that’s the bet that I’ve made on content.”

Article and photo by Janell Sims, Shorenstein Center.