OLD Media Moves

The Big Money falls flat

September 19, 2008

Yvette Kantrow, the executive editor of The Deal, writes Friday that she’s not impressed with The Big Money, the new business news site launched this week by Slate.

The Big MoneyKantrow writes, “We have heard this pitch a lot lately, first from the upper echelons of glossy palace Condé Nast Publications Inc. before the birth of Portfolio; then from the honchos at Fox News before they gestated Fox Business News; and more recently from TheStreet.com Inc., before it brought us its rather bizarre celebrity-gossip-cum-personal-finance site, MainStreet.com. (To be fair to MainStreet.com, we should note that it has been a lot less celebrity-obsessed since the departure in July of founding editor Caroline Waxler.)

“While each of these products may be aimed at different segments of the non-business audience — something tells us Slate readers aren’t rushing to MainStreet.com to learn a life lesson about money from Britney Spears — they all share one thing in common: a vow not to get bogged down by yawn-inducing numbers, mind-numbing statistics and that great big bugaboo of the new business journalism: jargon.

“In short, they aim to bridge the gap between Main Street and Wall Street and entertain along the way. They’re Elle Woods goes to business school. And that’s not easy. The gap between the real world and the financial one has never been wider, or more frightening, as the markets get more and more complex — credit default swaps, anyone? — and a larger and larger issue in everyone’s lives. As tempting as it is, it’s hard to reduce the entire mortgage meltdown into a jargon-free sound bite without tripping over the old clichés about Wall Street’s hubris and greed.

“Indeed, The Big Money, for its part, isn’t really about business, per se. On Wednesday morning, not one scintilla of information could be found on the site about the bailout of AIG (except in its wrap-up of what other outlets were covering), but there was a lead story on trendy yoga-wear retailer Lululemon Athletica Inc., cleverly headlined ‘Lord of the Pants.’ (By Thursday, there was more AIG coverage on the site.) Much more than news reporting, The Big Money traffics in opinion, attitude and, of course, a big dose of personality.”

Read more here.

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