OLD Media Moves

The problem with business journalism

May 24, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Dan Gainor, the director of the Business and Media Institute, was part of a panel at the annual Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference earlier this week on the problems with business journalism.

He sent Talking Biz News a copy of his prepared remarks. What follows below is an excerpt.

Dan Gainor“Part of the problem is that business coverage isn’t what it used to be. There was a time when the business section was the only place you found business news. And the audience was clear. Business news was about and for people in business.

“Now you are just as likely to find business coverage pretty much anywhere in a news broadcast or in a newspaper, especially in sports. Contract battles, ownership changes – it’s all there.

“So who then are you writing for? Businessmen? Investors? Unions? Or consumers? Each of these groups has its own agenda, its own idea of good news and bad.

“Good journalism shouldn’t embrace any one of those positions. It should draw ideas from all of them.

“Many of the daily coverage problems stem from what should be basic journalism. A poor understanding of economics is a consistent issue. And a basic inability to do math creeps into print more often than it should.

“Deadline pressure encourages reporters to turn in stories that are thoroughly one-sided or stacked with critics.

“Another problem is our lack of familiarity with business – even our own business. No news room I’ve ever encountered has had a good relationship with the business-side. In each and every case, reporters and editors either avoided or looked down on dealing with ad reps and circulation staff.”

If you want all of the prepared remarks, e-mail me.

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