OLD Media Moves

Covering the loss of a city's major HQ

October 12, 2005

One of the things that I like to look at to gauge a newspaper’s strength in reporting about business is how it covers the story of when a major employer in the city is sold to another company and the headquarters is moved out of the state. If they’re aggressive in covering this story, then they’re likely to be aggressive in covering all business.

This story is particularly sensitive in smaller cities, and it hit Greensboro, N.C., on Monday when it was announced that Lincoln National would acquire Jefferson-Pilot for $7.5 billion. The deal is expected to close early next year.

When a city loses the headquarters of a major corporation, particularly one in the Fortune 500, it’s a blow to the local ego and recruiters say it hurts efforts to bring other headquarters into the town or the city. Still, I’ve seen many newspapers write about such deals only from the perspective of how the stock price goes up on the day that the deal is announced and whether jobs are going to be lost — and typically the job question is never definitely answered on the day that the deal is announced.

I was impressed by the depth and breadth of the Greensboro News & Record’s coverage on the first day, which can be accessed online here.

They looked at the deal from a number of different angles, from local giving to charities to the impact on the city to when local officials were first told of the deal. They also looked at the future for employees in Greensboro and the history of the company.

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