OLD Media Moves

ACBJ papers toot horn

December 4, 2009


Each of the 40 American City Business Journals papers showed up Friday morning at subscribers offices and homes with a special four-page wrap that trumpets the weekly business newspaper chain’s growth during a time of industry struggles.

The wraps contain testimonials from local business men and women in each market about how the business paper has helped them, and it launches a marketing compaign for the papers using the slogan, “Who do you want to meet today?”

The wrap also touts the fact that ACBJ’s paid circulation has increased by 3.8 percent between 2005 and 2009 while daily newspapers in the same 40 markets have lost 18.8 percent in circulation, according to Audit Bureau of Circulation data. The company’s total business journal circulation is now more than 470,000. Its bizjournals.com site has more than 8 million unique monthly visitors.

“Our circulation has been growing for several years in a row,” says Whit Shaw, the CEO of the Charlotte-based company. “We’re probably the only print newspaper company in the country that can say that. So our challenge is to ensure that people do not transfer the problems that other print publishers are having to their presumptions about our own operations.”

A Q&A with Shaw is included in each of the wraps, as is a story about the events that the ACBJ papers hold for their subscribers in each market.

The four-page wraps obtained by Talking Biz News from some of the ACBJ markets also focus on their journalism, noting the awards the papers have won and the stories they have broken.

Here are some highlights:

  • The wrap for the Triangle Business Journal in Raleigh, N.C. notes that the editorial staff has 181 years of experience and the average news department staffer has worked at the paper for 8.9 years. “A veteran staff infuses the institutional memory in their stories that makes the pieces that much more interesting and relevant,” said editor Sougata Mukherjee.
  • The wrap for the Puget Sound Business Journal in Seattle mentions reporter Steve Wilhelm, who has been with the paper since 1988. “This is the highest quality group of reporters I’ve ever worked with,” says Wilhelm, who as the Business Journal’s Boeing reporter is now covering his fifth CEO. The well-sourced Wilhelm finds that Boeing suppliers are just as likely to mine his knowledge of Boeing’s manufacturing plans as Wilhelm is to gauge theirs.
  • The wrap for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal highlights its online news coverage, which has grown dramatically for all of the ACBJ papers. A business-related trial was a case in point. Starting in late October and continuing for five weeks, staff writer Katharine Grayson was there, often filing two stories per day to the Web site. Readers responded by making those stories some of the most-read on its site during those weeks.
  • The St. Louis Business Journal wrap mentions that when Editor Trish Miller showed up for her job interview more than 20 years ago, she promised she would do whatever it took to join the staff, even sweep floors. The daughter of the publisher of the Washington Missourian, Miller worked as a researcher and reporter before making her way to the editor’s desk. The paper is the only newspaper she has ever worked for except for her family’s.

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