Stephen J. Adler, who has been editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek for more than four years, will resign from his post once the sale of the magazine to Bloomberg LP is completed, as anticipated, in early December.
Adler informed his staff of his plans in a memo Tuesday night. He declined to comment beyond what he wrote in the memo (see full memo below). On Oct. 13, BusinessWeek’s parent McGraw-Hill Cos. announced it was selling the magazine to Bloomberg after a months-long sales process.
Adler’s resignation eliminates any question as to whether he would continue on under Bloomberg’s ownership and gives Bloomberg’s chief content officer, Norman Pearlstine, the opportunity to hand pick his own candidate for BusinessWeek’s top editorial job. Adler and Pearlstine, who will become chairman of BusinessWeek, were once colleagues at The Wall Street Journal. It is rare that the top editor of a magazine that is acquired stays on in that role.
“It was hugely important to me to help find the right owner for BusinessWeek and to work closely with our business-side colleagues to ensure that staffers would be provided appropriate benefits under any circumstances,” Adler wrote in his staff memo. “Now that these goals have been accomplished, I’m considering other opportunities, and I believe it makes sense for a new owner to move forward with a new editor.”
Pearlstine, who has recruited his old friend, Jim Kelly, the former managing editor of Time Inc. to help with the transition, says: “Steve Adler is a great journalist, editor and friend. We respect his decision to pursue other opportunities. He will remain on board until the acquisition is completed, and we are actively recruiting a new editor to ensure that BusinessWeek delivers the powerful, authoritative content that senior managers, government officials and thought leaders rely upon.” Kelly could not be reached for comment.
When Adler, 54, was recruited to BusinessWeek in late 2004, he was largely seen as a talented and ambitious editor itching to lead his own news organization. For years, Adler, a deputy managing editor at The Journal, was considered to be among the top candidates to become the newspaper's managing editor. By coming to BusinessWeek, Adler had big shoes to fill, following Stephen Shepard who presided over BusinessWeek as its editor-in-chief for more than 20 years. But Adler continued to emphasize the journalistic mission of the magazine and BusinessWeek racked up more than 100 journalism awards during his tenure. In the past three years alone, BusinessWeek won 38 major awards, compared to seven at Fortune, one at Forbes and zero at the Economist. More recently, BusinessWeek won the General Excellence SABEW award (Society of American Business Editors and Writers) and its web site won for best in business.
While Adler's time at BusinessWeek coincided with a challenging advertising climate, BusinessWeek’s weekly readership remained steady at nearly 5 million.
"It has been a true privilege to work with Steve. He is a great leader who has built an incredible team and legacy, and has been a friend to me and to BusinessWeek," says BusinessWeek President Keith Fox who has worked alongside Adler for the past two and half years. "I wish him nothing but the best as he embarks on the next chapter in his life."
Among Adler’s other accomplishments were to create an investigative reporting unit, put in place an editor whose sole responsibility would be overseeing the magazine’s web operations, integrate the print and online operations and make key high profile hires. Among those were Ellen Pollock, a former deputy page one editor at The Journal, and John Byrne, a BusinessWeek alumnus who was editor-in-chief of Fast Company magazine. Pollock and Byrne serve as BusinessWeek’s executive editors.
October 20, 2009
I want you to be the first to know that I will be leaving BusinessWeek when Bloomberg becomes its new owner in December.
It was hugely important to me to help find the right home for BusinessWeek and to work closely with our business-side colleagues to ensure that staffers would be provided appropriate benefits under any circumstance. Now that these goals have been accomplished, I’m considering other opportunities, and I believe it makes sense for a new owner to move forward with a new editor.
I’m excited about the sale to Bloomberg and about BusinessWeek’s opportunity to prosper under its leadership. I’m confident the Bloomberg team shares our journalistic standards and will bring new passion, new ideas, and new resources to the endeavor. I look forward to working with you and with the Bloomberg team to make the smoothest-possible transition.
I’m very proud of the work the BusinessWeek team has done in the past five years. You’ve broken an extraordinary series of stories and won a record number of awards, including the most prestigious in our business. You’ve provided the indispensable journalism for which our magazine has long been famous—and on which our readers depend. As a result, BusinessWeek has succeeded in maintaining all of its print readership of nearly five million during a period of great economic challenge, while building a new audience of ten million monthly users online.
I am especially grateful to Terry McGraw and all my McGraw-Hill colleagues for their support. Terry has always protected our editorial independence, cheered our accomplishments, and held us to the highest standards of journalistic integrity and excellence. At I&M, Glenn Goldberg has helped us enormously with resource needs and always provided thoughtful counsel and encouragement.
I want to offer deepest thanks to BW’s two executive editors -- and my good friends -- Ellen Pollock and John Byrne, for guiding our editorial team with such extraordinary skill and good humor. They helped build and maintain the close community we share (think jazz and chocolate!) During the past 30 months, BusinessWeek President Keith Fox has been the ideal collaborator and an amazingly creative and disciplined leader of our business in the toughest of times. I am grateful for all his tireless work on behalf of our team. And I must express my great affection and gratitude to Aida Rosario, whom you all know as our secret weapon in navigating the bureaucracy and whom we are all so fortunate to have managing the office.
It has been an honor and a daily joy to work with all of you. And for the next six weeks, it will remain so.
With my thanks and warm regards, Steve