OLD Media Moves

Akron paper drops standalone biz section during the week

February 22, 2007

The Akron Beacon Journal will drop its standalone business section during the week as it cuts its stock listings, managing editor Mizell Stewart said in a column. The changes will begin on March 5.

The Akron paper is the second to cut its standalone section that I’m aware of. Interestingly, the other — the Cincinnati Enquirer — is also in Ohio.

Mizell StewartStewart wrote, “The Business section will be relocated and combined with the Sports section Monday through Friday. The Business section will remain a separate section on Saturday and Sunday.”

Later, he added, “The daily stock report in the Beacon Journal’s print edition will be consolidated into a single page. It will include a comprehensive list of local stocks of interest and the top mutual funds, along with reports on currencies, commodities and interest rates.

“Some of the space formerly devoted to stock listings will be used to increase the amount of space available for daily business news. In the coming weeks, we plan to increase the size of the Sunday Business section from its current four pages to six.

“In this regard, the Beacon Journal is following the lead of many other U.S. newspapers, reducing the amount of space devoted to ‘commodity’ content and shifting those resources to provide unique local content that can’t be found elsewhere.”

Read more here.

Here’s my take: Cutting standalone business sections and putting business news into the back of the metro or sports section of the daily newspaper will be the next wave of cuts that we’ll see to business journalism, similar to the cutting of stock listings from the past 18 months. What it translates to is a loss of prestige for business coverage in the newsroom, and in journalism overall.

I hear rumors that this is being considered at a lot of other metro dailies, or has already been decided and is about to be implemented.

Let me ask all business editors where this is being considered to go to their editors and ask them this question: What is more important to people, knowing information about their jobs and the economy, or knowing whether their favorite sports team won last night? (And I went to the UNC-NC State game last night.) At some point, newspapers will have to decide whether they want to improve society or not.

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