The packaging may be a bit quirky, but the contents are rock solid.
Bloomberg Businessweek is kind of like an old-fashioned general store: a magazine that has been published every week for almost 100 years and reports “like no one else” on the global business world, as it claims in its ads. Because the editorial team can draw on 2 700 employees who work for the Bloomberg news service and are present in more than 70 countries, the range of topics it covers is correspondingly broad. A report on the drought in Iran is followed by a portrait of Tobi Lütke, the German-born CEO of Shopify, Amazon’s trendy competitor. And after a commentary on the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy comes an article on carmaker Tesla’s aggressive strategy in China. Sometimes the entire issue is monothematic and devoted to one topic that overshadows all other news: the Covid-19 pandemic, for example.
But Bloomberg Businessweek’s appearance is anything but old-fashioned. That’s thanks to Chris Nosenzo, who has been the magazine’s creative director for four years. With unusual photographs, quirky illustrations and a sometimes downright anarchic page layout, the graphic designer succeeds in presenting even dry topics in an appealing way week after week. He doesn’t take himself too seriously; next to the table of contents there’s a (probably fictional) dialog between Nosenzo and his staff, in which the story of how the cover picture came about is recounted. Nosenzo recently joked about the resemblance between Lütke and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and about his employer’s rigid rules when it comes to orthography, which he doesn’t want to abide by.
But Nosenzo did not invent Bloomberg Businessweek’s modern visual language. He is following in the footsteps of Richard Turley, who put his stamp on the new publication after Businessweek magazine was taken over by Bloomberg Media in 2010. Turley experimented with different font sizes and illustrations that often contained sexual innuendos. A few years ago, the award-winning Turley explained this, saying that he finds being naughty amusing and loves in-your-face humor.
Nosenzo’s visual language is tame in comparison. When asked about Turley, he recently said: “After the financial crisis, the readership was open to ironic observations. That’s why his predecessor’s design ideas resonated, he explained. “Now, however, there’s a desire for something more direct.”
But perhaps this course correction was also appropriate because, in view of the hymns of praise it receives for its layout, the outstanding business journalism published in Bloomberg Businessweek risked receding into the background. After all, the owner of the publication, media mogul and politician Mike Bloomberg, bought Businessweek because he needed a flagship for his multimedia empire.
So how did the deal come about? Businessweek, launched in New York in 1929 and owned by the textbook publisher McGraw-Hill, had a good name and reach. It was a prestigious publication in the US until the end, although it was already suffering due to the structural changes that were underway in the US media industry before the financial crisis. Bloomberg, on the other hand, provided the content, the gripping reports and research from the business world. Sometimes the owner, who is one of the richest Americans, with an estimated fortune of 70 billion dollars, sits down at a keyboard himself and publishes an opinion piece.
So for Bloomberg, the launch of the new magazine probably paid off, even though Bloomberg Businessweek is in the red and circulation of the North American edition has officially fallen to 311,000 copies. The publication is considered a reliable source of information in political and business circles. The structure of the magazine is the same week after week. The Business, Technology, Finance, Economics and Politics sections are followed by the Features section, which contains longer pieces about captains of industry or research on a topic that interests readers. Each issue is rounded off with some journalistic dessert: the Pursuits section is devoted to luxury goods, exotic vacation destinations and other expensive fun that most readers can probably only dream of.
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