A few months ago, I had dinner with a friend of mine who's in the magazine business. "Business Week is for sale," I said. "You guys want to buy it?"
"I don't think we need any more liabilities," he replied.
Of course, I knew where he was coming from, and if you saw things the way he saw them, the way most people in that business, like so many others, are/were seeing things these days, you'd be in touch with the dark side, too. Everything is dying. Digital media is eating what little lunch we all have left. Woe is us. Books, newspapers, television, magazines, radio, you name it, it's all doomed, nothing will remain but little screens where we all download our pre-arranged dollop of opinionated pablum every ninety seconds or so.
But hold on a minute. It turns out that fewer magazines folded in 2009 than in the two years prior. While USA Today is way down right now, the Wall Street Journal has crept up to take its place as the most circulated paper in America. And the New York Times has decided that it's not going to unload the Boston Globe after all. Television networks -- save one -- have had the best fall launch in quite some time. Radio's not going anywhere, the the hype about satellite notwithstanding. And now here comes Bloomberg with what sure looks like a vote of confidence in little old Business Week, which for a while looked like the guy at the party who nobody wanted to dance with.
Winners and losers. Losers and winners. The only thing that separates the two may lie in how they see the water level.
So congratulations, Bloomberg dudes, for seeing the whole half-full thing.