Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The future of newspapers' business sections in the Internet age

The tightening ad market is claiming more victims. The latest: "The Denver Post—which folded its business section into other sections on every day but Sunday—last month became at least the eighth daily since early 2007 to cut its stand-alone daily business section," according to BtoBOnline.

As it is, many newspapers have been pushing their readers to their websites to check out the stock pages, in part as a cost-savings initiative because the cost of newsprint continues to rise (if only I could invest in the futures market for newsprint). And in part because most active traders, these newspapers feel, already check their stocks online.

But getting rid of standalone business sections means:
  • Business news becomes a less important section within the newspaper hierarchy.
  • Business sections will get fewer resources and reporters. The level of business coverage will decrease because staffs won't have enough time to cover news they would like to.
  • Business sections will be smaller sections and more difficult to find.
  • There will be less room for local coverage.
All this will lead to a more challenging ad environment, and a downward cycle.

This is good news for local business weeklies...which should be able to beef up their pages with content and ads.

Meanwhile, the BtoBOnline article cited "a study by Arizona State University's National Center for Business Journalism found that about 75% of daily newspapers today run, on average, one page or less of business news a day, and only one in eight daily papers runs a stand-alone section."

The implications for B2B PR programs is that we need to shift our focus to the business weeklies and AP, Bloomberg and Reuters, and away from local market daily business sections.

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