Newspaper Business Sections: Going, Going, Gone
If you pick up the Denver Post and can’t find the business section, it’s no mistake. According to this item in the Talking Biz News blog, the Post is dropping its weekday stand-alone business section starting next week and folding business into the news section. The Post is just the latest daily to kill its business-only section. The Orange County Register announced similar plans in late January, making it the largest circulation U.S. daily to adopt the practice to date. Other papers following the trend: the Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch, Reno Gazette-Journal, Winston-Salem Journal, Monterey Herald and Akron Beacon-Journal.
With newspapers everywhere struggling to cut costs in the wake of falling revenue, it’s no surprise business sections are the first to go. Business doesn’t attract as many advertisers as news or sports sections. In that case, papers are wise to shrink the business news hole to keep operating costs in line with revenue. Many papers have already done this by relegating stock listings to weekend summaries, a smart move considering how many people now track their investments online. Papers have curtailed coverage of publicly traded companies outside their circulation area for the same reason.
So what does that leave business sections to cover? Actually, there’s plenty. Local companies. The impact of general economic trends on local businesses. Consumer advocacy. All important and ambitious subjects that no other news outlets can do quite as well – and I’m not forgetting about the weekly business journals in most cities. Though they’ve been around for a few decades, most business weeklies still fall short of the dailies’ editorial chops. It’ll be interesting to see if downsized business sections remain up to the task.