OLD Media Moves

Jaffe: Demise of stock tables changes investing habits

May 31, 2006

MarketWatch columnist Chuck Jaffe, a former president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, writes a column Wednesday about the demise of stock tables within newspapers. He notes that he went to a SABEW conference about a decade ago when he was with the Boston Globe where the topic was discussed. When he returned to the Globe, his boss the business editor said that the paper would be the last to drop stock tables.

On Tuesday, the Globe was the latest, but definitely not the last, newspaper to announce that it was cutting its stock listings printed every day in the paper.

Chuck JaffeJaffe thinks this change has implications beyond newsprint costs and the amount of space devoted to business information in a daily newspaper.

He wrote, “But if the Globe’s move does sound the death knell for stock listings, the question — particularly for the diehards — is not just where will they get their news, but how that delivery of information will actually change their investing habits.

“It’s a process that most of today’s investors went through by choice, deciding they would give up stock tables for something more interactive and current. Investors whose paper drops the listings may be moved against their will.

“Talk to experts in behavioral finance and they make it clear that the way investors get information has a lot to do with the way they act on that information. During the bull market of the late 1990s, investors started watching business television programming, and liked what they were seeing so much as their portfolios grew that they started acting on the information more regularly.

“When the bear market arrived, people stopped looking because they saw blood every direction they turned.

“Today, investors have access to trading data in real time, but that doesn’t mean they know how to use it. Talking with several readers who I first met during my time at the Globe, the thing they say they will miss about stock tables is the timeless comfort they got from their daily checkups, without feeling any need or compulsion to trade.”

Read more here.

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