OLD Media Moves

Business journalism is changing, says O'Bryon

June 21, 2006

The cutting of stock listings in the business section of daily newspapers is just one of the many changes that will cause business journalism to change, said Linda O’Bryon, the senior vice president and general manager of NBR Enterprises/WPBT2, which produces Nightly Business Report, seen nationally on more than 250 public television stations, in a speech Wednesday night.

Linda O'Bryon“That’s not all that’s changing about business news… the very definition is being redefined,” said O’Bryon, the keynote speaker for a symposium on business journalism held at UNC-Chapel Hill. ” With HSAs, 401(k)s, education accounts and other plans, the consumer needs useful, objective and trustworthy information about savings, investments and health insurance options. Corporate America is slowly handing off to the individual what it has done for employees for decades – providing pension plans and health insurance.”

Nightly Business Report has been credited for spawning the genre of daily business news on television. O’Bryon was the program’s original co-anchor, a position she held for 12 years, before taking on additional management responsibilities. As general manager of NBR Enterprises, she oversees Nightly Business Report’s editorial, marketing and business operations.

Newspapers and local TV stations that were once the main pipeline to readers and viewers are seeing significant competition from startups that can develop a business to disseminate news and information on the Internet, with far less capital and far fewer resources, said O’Bryon.

Still, O’Bryon argued that business journalists will be more important than ever before because their main output — the story — will not change. In addition, business journalists act as the conduit for consumers in dealing with the information overload. They tell readers what’s important by what they cover.

O’Bryon believes that personal finance journalism will become an increasingly important part of the field in the coming years. The global marketplace will also become more important.

But, O’Bryon ended, it all comes back to the stories.

“For the business journalist, no matter how the technology changes, no matter what form of podcasting or vodcasting delivers our material, no matter how far across the world our reporting takes us, it’s the story that makes the difference,” said O’Bryon. “And that is the one trend that is not likely to change.”

O’Bryon was named one of the 20th century’s top 100 business news luminaries by industry newsletter TJFR. And in 2004, O’Bryon received the Distinguished Achievement Award by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers at the 41st annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

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