OLD Media Moves

Business journalism: At a crossroads?

January 23, 2006

I had an interesting conversation with Herb Greenberg, the California-based columnist for Marketwatch.com, about an issue that was recently posted on Talking Biz News. And he made an interesting side comment that has stuck in my mind since I hung up the phone.

What Greenberg, formerly of TheStreet.com and of the San Francisco daily, said was this: There has never been a more important time in business journalism as what we’re experiencing today. The way business news is being delivered is changing, and how business news is being reported is changing. The general public is questioning the usefulness of mainstream media, and as a result, business journalism is under more scrutiny as well.

I agree. Business journalism has made great strides in the past 17 years in which I have been involved in the field, but in many respects it’s still considered a back water at many publications. And there are threats all around, from the perception out there that business reporters are on the take from the companies and industries that they write about to companies that are becoming increasingly hostile to the business journalist’s role of providing readers with information about corporate America, the economy and Wall Street.

This comes at a time when daily newspapers are questioning the amount of space in which they provide to business information — witness what is happening with stock listings being cut in many metropolitan dailies without giving additional space to editorial content.

All around business journalism there are attemps to spin the truth, from investors and analysts to public relations officials to corporate executives. Business journalism must resist these threats and continue to move forward. Otherwise, we lose all credibility.

I think SABEW can play a big part in this. The field is going through a time where new leaders are emerging as old pros such as Myron Kandel fade away. We must continue to strive to make business journalism better. Quality means respect.

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