Another view of cutting stock listings

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4 Responses

  1. Bill Choyke, Business Editor says:

    I would have to disagree with my good friend Bernie. There is another choice that we fail to recognize – work with advertising to find revenue niches to pay for the cost of the newsprint, which in our case is about $1,500 daily.

    After cutting stocks and mutuals from four pages to two pages in March of 2005, we at The Virginian-Pilot have made a concerted effort to add back specific stocks on requests from customers once a month. AP has been gracious in working with us. We now include 2,121 stocks Tuesday through Saturday, and so far about 1,100 of them are requests from readers. The others are based on volume of trading. When a stock is requested, a non-requested stock falls out. In short, we have tailored our stocks pages to meet our customers’ requests. It was a powerful and so far convincing argument when our publisher inquired about us eliminating stocks in April after the NYT did.

    We have begun conversations with advertising which hopefully will lead to advertising in the agate targeted to users of the stocks page. From the calls and emails a biz editor gets when these pages are reduced or eliminated, we know the demographics. Yes, there should be a wall between news and advertising. But in this case, a picket fence will do.

  2. David Crook says:

    I hope this doesn’t appear too self serving, but there ae alternatives to gutting your section when you cut your agate.
    Among them…editors might consider adding the Wall Street Journal Sunday, which gives readers consider added value. Better to give them something as you take something away.
    We’re just once a week, so a paper that cuts its daily agate can still carry us without using as much newsprint as it did before.
    Our Edit-Only pages have various configurations. In our four-page edition, local papers can use two half pages to put in their own stock lists or other statistical–non WSJ content–material.
    Papers that are welcomed into our Advertising network actually make money on us.
    All that and the best personal-finance and investing advice in the world.
    Not a bad deal.

    David Crook
    The Wall Street Journal Sunday

  3. Joe says:

    Of course, a newspaper is in economic trouble and readers rather turn to other sources for their information. So what do newsrooms do? Attack the business side. All the “bean counters” understand are dollars and cents; they couldn’t possibly comprehend complex issues regarding content and reader service. Clearly, business executives are the problem for the increasing non-relevance of newspapers, not the people who actually control the news columns. This ain’t rocket science, Bernie, and it doesn’t take a direct bloodline from H.L. Mencken to correctly analyze problems. Strangley, other industries don’t quite have this same internal arrogance (maybe medicine, law, and engineering do, but there’s actually some technical knowledge and education associated with these disciplines).

    I essentially see your move (and your comments) as being defensive — your team wasn’t sharp enough to figure this out until someone forced your hand. I am also surprised (and dismayed) that a “business journalist” has such as jaundiced (and skewed) view of how businesses actually work (bet the executives in local Baltimore companies would love to be labeled perjoratively as “bean counters”). Perhaps you’d be well-served by understanding a bit more about how newspapers operate as a business (y’know, profits and losses, stuff like that). I’m sure if this issue occurred in an industry outside newspapers, your staff would call it for what it is.

  4. David Keim says:

    We did the same thing Bill described when we reduced our stock listings three years ago. The reduction was forced by the move to a new, smaller (50-inch web) press. We asked readers to send us the stocks and mutual funds they wanted us to list, and we still get a couple requests a month. AP handles them with no problem. Further reductions seem inevitable, but telling readers we’ll list stocks that they request goes a long way to mitigating blowback.

    David Keim
    Business editor
    Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel

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