One of the business editors I visited with at the American Press Institute on Tuesday runs the biz section at the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. I was very impressed with the Monday business section, which is entirely written in alternative story formats from typical inverted pyramind stories that we read every day.
For example, there is a regular feature in the Monday section called “My Biggest Mistake” that is a first-person account of a business man or woman’s biggest mistake that they’ve made in business. The mistake is told to a reporter, but is presented in the business person’s voice. The editor says it’s a time intensive story, but always well-read. You can read some of them here.
Another feature that I liked in the Monday P-D biz section is something called “The PD vs. the Pro.” You can read some of them here. This is where a Plain-Dealer reporter picks stocks against an investment pro from the Cleveland area. I like this feature because it presents investment advice in a unique way. And judging from the performance of the reporter I saw, it also reinforced with readers the fact that they shouldn’t be taking investment advice from business journalists.
There’s another regular feature called “Price Check” in which the paper checks the price of an every-day item at various retailers around the area. See some recent ones here.
Part of the presentation that I gave to a group of 12 business editors on Tuesday argued that for them to attract younger readers and new readers, they needed to think outside of the normal ways in which newspapers have presented business news for the past 25 years and present the information in new and interesting ways. The Plain-Dealer, in my estimation, is doing that with its Monday section.
Business editor Paul O’Donnell is definitely someone who understands what it takes to make business coverage lively and interesting.