Fortune's Andy Serwer On Bloomberg Businessweek: 'I Don't Think They Are Going To Kill Anyone'

Andy SerwerAndy Serwer has no fear.

A few weeks ago, as Bloomberg Businessweek was preparing its redesign, we heard from a couple of staffers at Fortune magazine who were a little worried about the magazine under their new owner — emphasis on the word: little.One source we talked to said there wasn’t some kind of paralyzing fear plaguing the newsroom. But the magazine under Bloomberg became a curiosity to some staffers who never paid attention to it before.

“We never had to worry about Businessweek before,” one source said. “Now they could be considered a threat.”

In interviews and marketing materials, Bloomberg Businessweek’s new editor Josh Tyrangiel throws around a stat that the magazine is using Bloomberg News’ army of 1,700 reporters to supplement the magazine.

Fortune’s managing editor Andy Serwer shrugs about it. “Being big doesn’t mean anything, being the best is what is important,” he told us over the phone.

Serwer remembers back in 2006, when Conde Nast was preparing to launch their business magazine killer: Portfolio. Its first issue was fat with ad pages. “When Portfolio was coming into the marketplace, it was like, ‘They’re going to blow you guys away.'” But then Conde Nast folded the magazine in April 2009.

Fortune, the Time Inc.-owned magazine, survived.

But, in fact, all business (and consumer) magazines have been suffered under the economic slump. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, based on the first three months of 2010, compared to 2009:

  • Fortune:  Lost 11.4% of ad revenue, down to $33.6 million. Ad pages down by 16%.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek: Lost 17.8% of ad revenue, down to $27.9 million. Ad pages down by 18.7%.
  • Forbes: Lost down 15.6% ad revenue, down to to $46.9 million. Ad pages down by 20.3%.

“This has been a three-horse race for decades and decades and decades,” Serwer said.

With Fortune’s new redesign, pumped up online content and an upcoming paid iPad application in the works, he is sure the magazine will succeed he said.

“I don’t think they are going to kill anyone,” he added.

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