OLD Media Moves

Top 10 biz journalism events for 2006

December 29, 2006

Yes, I am once again succumbing to the easy temptation of a list, an odious form of journalism that I don’t like.

But the people, they seem to like these lists. So here are the top 10 events in business journalism for 2006:

10. The failure of business journalists to accurately report about the holiday shopping season. Maybe it’s because this is fresh on my mind, but this web site has been full of comment after comment about publications totally missing the boat. Sales were lackluster at best, but you wouldn’t know that from the fawning coverage that was typically given retailers. Are we that gullible?

9. The legal battle between Donald Trump and New York Times business journalist Timothy O’Brien. Trump has sued Timothy O'BrienO’Brien, who wrote a book about Trump claiming that he wasn’t the billionaire he claimed to be. Round One went to Trump, who convinced a judge that O’Brien should disclose his sources of Trump’s net worth. Should that actually happen, then the ruling would have a chilling effect on business journalism sources.

8. A new managing editor at Fortune. While dozens of daily Andy Serwerbusiness sections changed editors in the past 12 months, no change is more important than the naming of Andy Serwer as the new ME at Fortune, replacing Eric Pooley, because of the publications stature as one of biz journalism’s flagship publications. Serwer’s task is to rebuild morale among some staffers who didn’t like Pooley’s style and keep Fortune’s writing and reporting among the best in business journalism at a time when it is seeing increased competition from new and old magazines.

7. Changes at Reuters, including a new editor in chief. The new editor, David Schlesinger, is an American, and he’s pushed the wire to be more involved in ‘participatory’ journalism. In Reutersaddition, the wire has begun offering a service to subscribers that allows them to buy and sell stocks based on specific news stories. Reuters seems to be making changes to adapt to the new world in journalism.

6. The new publications. Despite the overall malaise in the print journalism world, business publications are proliferating. Two new biz magazines, American and Dealmaker, made their debuts in 2006. Crain Communications started Financial Week, while Conde Nast will unveil Portfolio, a new glossy monthly, in April 2007. In addition, Fox News is expected to roll out its business news cable channel later in 2007. Let’s face it, business journalism is a growth industry.

5. The overhaul at the Washington Post biz desk. Not only did Sandy Sugawaraa number of well-known bylines depart due to a buyout, but the AME/business, Jill Dutt, left for another job at the paper, meaning deputy Sandy Sugawara moved up to the top slot. In addition, a new business editor and tech editor were also named at the paper. The Post’s biz section is closely watched in the industry because of its coverage, particularly on regulatory issues.

4. The unveiling of the new CNBC.com web site. The business news cable channel has previously been an afterthought in providing business news and information on the Internet, with web sites such as TheStreet.com, Marketwatch and others garnering much of the traffic. But its new web site, unveiled in early December, ups the ante for all of those aiming for visits and page hits in the business journalism world.

3. The overhaul at Dow Jones. I’m not just talking about the Gordon Crovitznew CEO of the company, Richard Zannino, or the new publisher at the flagship Wall Street Journal, Gordon Crovitz. But the entire company is changing how it gathers business news and information and how it’s presented to the public, beginning with an overhaul of the Journal on Jan. 2. In addition, current contract negotiations with union journalists could mean further changes.

2. The decision to cut stock listings from printed newspapers. While many papers continue to offer this data on their websites, the slashing of pages from the biz section means a loss in stature for the business desk in the newsroom. In addition, at some papers it means a smaller news hole for business stories.

1. The disclosure that Hewlett-Packard tried to discover what Hewlett-Packardboard member was leaking information to reporters who covered the company by spying on the business journalists. This news not only cost the H-P chairman her job but got her indicted.

More importantly, it showed business journalists that their stories and tactics are closely followed by those in the executive suite. It also shows the steps that others will take to prevent us from doing our jobs. Let the battle continue.

Have a happy new year, and let’s all hope 2007 brings a renewed interest among media companies in covering business news.

What’s interesting is that when I look back at the top 10 list for the first six months of the year, only two events — the cutting of stock listings and the changes at the Post — were repeats.

In other words, there’s been a lot of serious issues and changes facing business journalism, and those changes are happening at a fast pace.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry daily or weekly.

Subscribe to TBN

Receive updates about new stories in the industry.