OLD Media Moves

Mobile paper and its stock listings

July 25, 2006

I have been in Mobile, Ala., for the past two days running some training sessions at the Press-Register, a Newhouse paper. While there, I had an opportunity to talk to Mike Marshall, the editor, and K.A. Turner, the business editor, about the paper’s decision to cut stock listings, which occurred in April.

Marshall said that he was opposed to cutting the stock listings at the time because of the signal it was sending to the community. He noted that newspapers and newspaper companies had a negative connotation at the time. Marshall said he wanted to push the cutting of the stock listings back to this winter.

Marshall added that five people cancelled their subscriptions as a result of the decision, but that the paper would likely contact those readers in the future and try to get them to come back as subscribers.

He also told me something interesting that I haven’t heard other papers who have cut stock listings doing: The Mobile paper offered to come to anyone’s home with a PC to help set up a stock portfolio online so that they could get their stock prices that way. Marshall said no one took them up on the offer, but he believes that the offer helped soothe upset readers.

Turner said that she continues to hear from some readers about the stock listings, and received a fax from a female subscriber last week asking for the listings to be put back in the paper. She said that every subscriber she talked to about the decision was 45 years or older.

The Mobile paper is in a new building, and the staff seemed energetic. Among the reporters I met was Ben Raines, the son of former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines.

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