Content will be business journalism's salvation
Great stories and investigations will allow business journalism to thrive even as the industry struggles to redefine itself, said Floyd Norris of the New York Times at lunch on Monday at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers annual conference.
“In some cases, things have never been better,” said Norris, noting that he had read through some of the organization’s Best in Business winners for 2007 on Monday. “This is really good stuff.”
Norris received the SABEW Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished career in business journalism. He is the chief financial correspondent for the Times and received a Loeb Award for lifetime achievement in 2003. Norris was also a SABEW board member from 2001 to 2004.
This year’s conference, said Norris, is the “most downbeat” he has ever attended, as there is talk of layoffs and buyouts in newsrooms, and many publications are cutting back on business news coverage. But then he compared what is happening in the financial services industry to journalism and said, “By the the standards of that industry, we’re not doing that bad.”
But Norris conceded that the newspaper industry faces “a great challenge,” and he chided publications for stumbling into “giving away what we create.” Later, Norris added, “We have to find a way to get paid for producing all that stuff.”
Norris, who worked as an AP business reporter and at Barron’s before joining the Times,Â also said that the quality of business journalism has never been better, and he expressed amazement at what young journalists today can do compared to when he was the same age.
And he noted that more people today read and watch business news coverage than ever before, especially hard-hitting news and analysis about industries and markets.
“I hope that will be our salvation, that there will be a great demand for what we do,” said Norris.