The right way to cover small business
The coverage, which is called “ShopTalk: Your Small Business Help Center’” and runs every Wednesday, focuses on news that provides advice for small businesses.
Arwood pointed to a story the paper wrote about an appliance store that went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy court reorganization and a story about two entrepreneurs who struggled to find retail shelf space for their gluten-free products as examples of stories that the paper has covered that sets it apart from small business coverage in other newspapers, which he called simple features stories.
“We just determined that it was going to be better than most small business coverage in America,” said Arwood. “The small business beat has been very successful for us.” He noted that reporter Caroline McMillan Portillo won a Society of American Business Editors and Writers award in 2014 for her small business coverage.
Arwood spoke Monday at UNC-Chapel Hill as part of The Carolina Seminars on Business Journalism and Public Policy.
The business editor noted that the Observer works closely with its sister paper, The (Raleigh) News & Observer, to cover business news in North Carolina. While both papers have covered some stories, such as the state’s efforts to attract an automobile manufacturer, they share stories and coordinate coverage. “We have access to each other’s story budgets each day,” he said.
Arwood also said that the Observer business news desk works with its general news reporters to cover specific stories, such as when real estate developers appear before the Charlotte City Council to get their plans approved.
The Observer business desk should be spending more time writing about income inequality, he added. And it will continue to document Bank of America’s settlements with the federal government to determine whether people with problem home loans will receive the money earmarked for them.