OLD Media Moves

A parting shot from outgoing Chief Executive editor

April 27, 2006

William Holstein, in what might be his final column as editor of Chief Executive magazine, lamented the declining quality in business journalism. He blamed it on publications that are cutting back in their networks of correspondents and reporters, and in wanting to bring in some fresh blood, i.e. young reporters.

William HolsteinHolstein writes, “Fortune magazine now has one full-time staffer on the ground in Asia and one in Europe. That’s it. Business Week has folded its international editions and downgraded its Tokyo bureau to local hires. Forbes has scrapped Forbes Global. And forget television. The major networks have largely demolished their bureau networks. Fox has never built one. CNN has demonstrated that it can’t make a go of it in business news, aside from Lou Dobbs’ latest tirades. And CNBC has long ago forgotten any global aspirations.

“The quality of people get cut back. Tens of thousands of seasoned journalists have been fired, downsized, outsourced or just plain canned in the past few years. The mantra is, ‘Let’s bring in the children.’ The folks in charge, with marketing or technology or financial backgrounds, don’t see a difference in the end product, whether produced by experienced staff or newbies. But it’s obvious to me, a practitioner, that the product has been degraded. You know it as well. When CEOs see business reporters coming in the front door, they are usually unseasoned and naïve.

“Real business coverage gets cut back. There seems to be a stampede toward covering business as an extension of lifestyle, whether fashion or music or games or sports. Fortune magazine now has a managing editor with absolutely no business journalism experience and its new photo editor comes from, get this, Details magazine. No wonder the Big Three business magazines are in trouble with business readers they’re turning themselves into consumer-oriented magazines. The Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition also has flopped with business readers largely because you don’t have to read it.”

Holstein’s solution? Have a CEO of a company “adopt” a business journalist in the area, and have them sit in on meetings and explain to them how businesses work and what a CEO’s job is.

Read the rest of his column here, as well as some comments from readers.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry daily or weekly.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry.