BusinessWeek Morale Is Dangerously Low*

businessweek tbi

Terry McGraw, the CEO of BusinessWeek parent-company McGraw-Hill, says that the for-sale magazine has drawn interest from 93 different buyers.

PaidContent doesn’t buy it, reporting “the number interested in a second look appear to be well less than half.”

Why the shrinking interest?

Probably potential buyers are coming to the same conclusion we reached when the mag went up for sale in July:

BusinessWeek might only sell for $1.

How is that possible?

BusinessWeek is shrinking and losing money

And a new owner is going to have to do a lot more with it than just let the machines keep running.

A buyer is going to have to figure out how to scale back BusinessWeek’s print operations, build out its Web operations, and likely deal with printing and union contracts, severance fees, and other wind-down expenses.

These expenses could add up to tens of millions of dollars over several years. So while the cash paid in the transaction — $1 — might seem small, the real cost of owning BusinessWeek would be much more.

What’s more, a source tells us employee morale at BusinessWeek is dangerously low. Online editors fight off-line editors, the source says, and there’s a ton of frustration about BusinessWeek’s social news site, BusinessExchange.  The company reportedly spent $23 million building it, and it’s widely viewed as an expensive failure for a company that is already burning millions.

The source reports that staffers are nervous about upcoming cost cuts and can’t focus on their stories.  Online editor John Byrne and the mag editor Steven Adler are reportedly feuding and don’t talk. The online people are rooting against the mag people and the mag people are rooting against the online people.  And so on.

*UPDATE: Jon Fine, also a BusinessWeek employee, weighs in on the record:

I work at BusinessWeek, deal with print editors and online editors on a daily basis, and I have no idea what the hell this single source is talking about. Really.  C’mon, guys. You can do better than this.

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