OLD Media Moves

Readers upset about Rocky Mountain News stock cuts

February 23, 2006

Westword reporter Michael Roberts notes that after the Rocky Mountain News cut its stock listings to one page, business editor Rob Reuteman was inundated with calls.

Roberts reports: “Few were reassured to learn that the data is still available on the Rocky’s website.

“‘I was talking to ninety-year-old guys who’ve been subscribing for 44 years,’ Reuteman says. ‘And they’re not getting on the Internet.’

Rob Reuteman

“Backing up Reuteman’s thesis: The Rocky received approximately 150 complaint calls during the week of February 7, when the stock-listing announcement was made, and around 35 more the following Monday morning, as opposed to just fifteen or so e-mails. This contrast suggests that computer-literate people weren’t nearly as cheesed off as were older members of the Rocky’s demographic pool, who refuse to become entangled in the World Wide Web.”

Later, he writes, “When Temple became editor in 1998, the paper ran seven and a half pages of stock tables, but by last year, five of those pages had vanished. Reuteman says most individuals who phoned to gripe after previous cutbacks were upset that specific stocks they followed were gone, so employees simply reinstated them and removed others. Now that there’s just one page of listings, however, this approach won’t work. And while the people who bent Reuteman’s ear generally understood the economics behind the reductions, 54 of them canceled their subscriptions anyhow.

“Reuteman hopes these readers will return soon, but he understands that change is hard. ‘I’ve heard the sentiment that ‘I don’t have the Internet, I don’t want the Internet, I’m not going to get the Internet, I hate the Internet,” he says.”

This supports one of my arguments about the short-sightedness of newspapers cutting stock listings, and that’s the issue of the fact most of the readers who want the stock listings aren’t the type of business information consumers who will go to the Internet.

Read the entire article here.

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