OLD Media Moves

ACBJ chairman: Business journalism has hit bottom

April 27, 2009


American City Business Journals chairman Ray Shaw told business journalists Monday night that he believes that the layoffs and cutbacks in business journalism have hit bottom and that the industry will begin to rebound by the end of the year.

Shaw noted that his company, which owns and operates 40 weekly business journals across the country, employs 600 business journalists, the same number as lastyear.

“At this time next year, I would expect we would have more,” said Shaw, noting that his company was “solidly profitable” and had no debt.

Shaw received the Society of American Business Editors and Writers‘ Distinguished Achievement Award Monday night in Denver. His career in business journalism has spanned 50 years — 30 with Dow Jones & Co. and 20 running Charlotte, N.C.-based ACBJ. The business weekly company has had 20 consecutive years of growth and has increased circulation in each of the past five years, said Shaw.

Shaw criticized daily newspapers who have cut their standalone business sections and who give away content for free on the Internet.

“I think the dailies can be a lot smarter in dealing with the Web,” said Shaw. “The Wall Street Journal has it right. I think the model has to change.” All of ACBJ’s papers charge for access to Web content from their print publications.

Noting that the New York Times ran an article Monday about a 90-year-old health reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, the 75-year-old Shaw noted that he still has a lot more career left.

“I love this business,” he said. “I expect to be in it for a lot more years. Hopefully, we’ll have managers who won’t give away the dran thing.”

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