BusinessWeek, where the action happens off-screen

McGraw-Hill set Tuesday as the due date for bids for the ailing BusinessWeek magazine, and at least as of 7:30 pm eastern time, nothing at all has happened. Since this is one of those stories where I’ve encountered absolutely no fruitful sources, I’ve relied on reading the reports of other people.

So what’s going to happen to the business news weekly? Let’s catch up with the latest:

It will not go to Lazard chief Bruce Wasserstein. The owner of New York magazine has enough to deal with in the slumping publishing world already, so he’s gone, reports BusinessWeek columnist Jon Fine.

Fine himself is bowing out of the action after presenting us with most of it. He and wife Laurel Touby (a media maven in her own right) are taking a six-month sabbatical to do more fun things in other parts of the world.

Bloomberg LP remains interested, along with various other bidders, say various media reports. As you might expect, no one there is talking to us evil arch-rivals at Reuters. I hear from Bloomberg journalists that no one there is talking to them either. Too bad, because it was Bloomberg journalist Greg Bensinger who helped break the story. (And so much the worse, as Bensinger is on honeymoon at the moment.)

CBS and Pepsi bring you video ads — in your magazine

CBS and Pepsi have teamed up to roll out the first ever video advertising in a print magazine next month. It will appear in the September 18th edition of Entertainment Weekly.

The mini video screen is packaged into an fixed magazine insert in the middle of the magazine. But only magazine subscribers in New York and Los Angeles will be able to see the video ads in their magazines.

The campaign, which is backed by the Pepsi Max brand, aims to promote CBS’s Monday night comedy lineup and new dramas. The ad uses video-in-print technology developed by Americhip, and features five different clips totaling 40 minutes.

Vibe magazine publisher feels reader backlash

At least one subscriber of defunct hip-hop culture magazine Vibe wants to know why he’s not getting a refund — and is willing to go to court to get it.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, Alabama resident Kenneth Rogers said he purchased a one year subscription three months before the shock announcement and wants all subscribers to get their money back. Rogers sued for breach of contract and unjust enrichment for a lost subscription and is seeking class action status to allow others to join in the fight.

“As the magazine was quietly closing up the shop, the Vibe website continued to contain links to advertisements enticing customers to purchase subscriptions to the magazine,” the lawsuit says, naming Vibe Media Group as a defendant along with unnamed people associated with the magazine. Vibe should have “publicly disclosed to subscribers that it was teetering on the brink of insolvency,” it says.

Tuesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

U.S. business magazines face a shakeout (Reuters)
Robert MacMillan writes: “Business news publishers rubbed their hands in glee when the financial crisis grabbed headlines last fall, saying the meltdown would deliver a windfall blown in by widespread interest in their stories. It did not turn out that way. Appetite for news does not always translate into revenue, especially at a time when blogs, wire services such as Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters and other outlets crowd into news analysis territory that the big magazines had long claimed.”

McClatchy quarterly profit rises on cost cuts (Reuters)
“U.S. newspaper publisher McClatchy Co reported higher quarterly income on Tuesday because of cost cuts, pushing shares up as much as 67 percent, even as advertising revenue fell by nearly a third. McClatchy, publisher of The Miami Herald and Sacramento Bee, also said it reduced the amount of debt that it owes and sought to reassure investors that it will not violate the terms of its lending agreements,” reports Robert MacMillan.

Economist Group Buys Congressional Quarterly (WSJ)
Kevin Kingsbury writes: “The deal, terms of which weren’t disclosed, will create a new company called CQ-Roll Call Group. Roll Call is owned by the Economist Group, the London-based publisher of its namesake magazine. Roll Call is buying Congressional Quarterly from Times Publishing Co., whose primary operations is the St. Petersburg Times and related assets.”

Monday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

Microsoft takes on Google as Office moves to Web (Reuters)
Jim Finkle reports: “Microsoft will offer for free to consumers Web-based versions of its Office suite of programs, including a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and a note-taking program. Microsoft will also host one Internet business version of Office at its own data centers, charging companies a yet-to- be-announced fee.”

Six in 10 companies plan to skip Windows 7 (Reuters)
“Many of the more than 1,000 companies that responded to a survey by ScriptLogic Corp say they have economized by cutting back on software updates and lack the resources to deploy Microsoft’s latest offering.”

MySpace to Take Entertainment Tack (WSJ)
“In a brief interview, News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch said MySpace needs to be refocused ‘as an entertainment portal.’ Mr. Murdoch described his vision for MySpace as a place where ‘people are looking for common interests,’” writes Julia Angwin.

Did Vibe miss the online vibe?

Here’s an entry from our very own Reuters New York equities team summer intern Chavon Sutton. (Thanks, Chavon!)

Did Vibe magazine, the print ambassador of hip-hop culture, voice and style, pass up a chance to survive last year?

Vibe, the baby of acclaimed producer Quincy Jones (the composer who produced the late Michael Jackson’s mega-hit albums, “Thriller” and “Off the Wall,”), said earlier this week that it was shutting down immediately.

Help a starving business reporter

They moved your markets. Now you can move their bank accounts.

The Society of American Business Editors and Writers, or SABEW, is hosting an event next week at Columbia University’s School of Journalism to help business journalists who have lost their jobs or found themselves in other tough straits because of the biggest story on every business reporter’s beat — the financial crisis. Here is the text of the invitation:

Former Wall Street Journal Managing Editor and ProPublica founder Paul Steiger, and New York Times Business Editor Larry Ingrassia invite you to join them at an event to benefit business journalism and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW).

SABEW needs your support to help displaced business journalists and train business journalists for the digital age and new media landscape. Among SABEW’s programs are a revamped job listing site, a market for freelancers to find work, a mentor program for displaced journalists, teletraining on multimedia and business journalism topics, scholarships to attend conferences and training, and a revamp of our website to provide more robust services to members.

How much is Google to blame for newspapers’ woes?

The Web is abuzz over Eric Schmidt’s speech on Tuesday at the Newspaper Association of America’s annual meeting in San Diego — a speech, as the New York Times points out, in which the Google leader sidestepped any controversy and instead delivered “a lengthy discourse on the importance of newspapers and the challenges and opportunities brought about by technologies like mobile phones.”

So why all the fuss? Because newspapers are in deep trouble, and Google is an easy target for blame. The web search leader is weathering the recession relatively well and some have argued that Google News is making money off the back of newspaper publishers.

As Reuters puts it, “Some journalists have complained that search engines run by Google and Yahoo Inc make millions of dollars off their news, and that it should belong to them instead.”

Forbes (No longer Executive Life) Woman

There comes a time when you launch a magazine, but you don’t call it a magazine. Forbes, publisher of its namesake business magazine and luxury business title ForbesLife — and fresh off layoffs that are bruising most of the U.S. print media business – is starting ForbesWoman.

Rather than a magazine, the publisher is calling it a “brand,” which moves with the prevailing wisdom these days that you want to attract readers wherever they are, so you put the “brand” wherever it is. In that case, this means a quarterly magazine, bagged with copies of Forbes for female subscribers. It also means a website, which even a guy like me can read. In addition, it promises research, conferences and other events for its audience: women in the business world.

ForbesWoman’s press materials talk about its official launch, though it’s worth nothing that this is a retooling of something that you have seen before: ForbesLife Executive Woman, the somewhat awkardly named title that it started in 2007. Moira Forbes, daughter of Forbes Chief Steve Forbes, will publish the new magazine and Carol Hymowitz will edit it.

Best Life ends life

Maybe it’s something about magazines that have the word “Life” in their titles. Rodale, publisher of magazines such as Runner’s World and Prevention, is closing the book on Best Life, it’s its luxury magazine for men. Here are the first two paragraphs of the press release:

EMMAUS, PA AND NEW YORK, NY–March 11, 2009-Rodale Inc. announced today that the company will cease publication of Best Life magazine, effective immediately. The May issue, on newsstands next month, will be the last.

“Despite the great work of the sales team and the talent of the editorial staff, given the challenges of the advertising market and general conditions, Best Life could not meet our internal benchmarks, and we have made the decision to focus our resources on our core brands,” said Steven Pleshette Murphy, president and CEO of Rodale Inc. “Both VP/Editor-in-Chief Stephen Perrine and VP/Publisher Michael Wolfe have been outstanding leaders and ambassadors for the brand, and we are so proud of the work of the Best Life team.”