Media Moves

Top business journalism events of 2007

December 24, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Yes, I hate lists, especially lists disguised as business journalism, an all-to-common sight these days.

But I think as the years go by and we look back, we’ll see 2007 as a defining year in the world of business journalism because of the dramatic changes that took place.

So, here is my list of the 10 most important events in business journalism for 2007.

1. The sale of Dow Jones & Co. to News Corp. The parent company of The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Marketwatch and Dow Jones Newswires was sold to Rupert Murdoch for $5.3 billion. Because of the prominence of the publications, how these media outlets perform in the future will determine a lot in business journalism. If they continue their excellence, then business journalism continues to gain in stature.

2. The Conde Nast Portfolio launch. Ranked ahead of the launch of Fox Business Network for one simple reason: There’s already more than a dozen business and finance print magazines, but there’s only one other business news network. And with advertising declining among print publications, that means that Portfolio is taking away ads from someone else. The shakeout will be more pronounced in print than on TV.

3. The Fox Business Network launch. Murdoch also now has a cable network devoted to business news to add to his stable of media properties. The synergies between Fox Biz and the WSJ won’t fully be realized until the latter’s contract with CNBC expires in 2012.

Business 2.04. Business 2.0’s closure. The Time Inc. publication wasn’t a casualty of the Portfolio launch. Instead, its demise should be solely on the hands of mismanagement by its parent company. It was one of the few business magazines that had an attitude, and it got the Internet’s impact on industry better than others. Some of its better content — such as the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business — live on in Fortune.

5. The death of Jim Michaels. The former editor of Forbes impacted hundreds of business journalists who worked for the publication, and hundreds who didn’t but wanted to emulate its contrarian style. Michaels’ editing skills were legendary, as was his rapier-like tongue to those who received his edits.

6. The retirement of Paul Steiger. The managing editor of The Wall Street Journal has held the top position in business journalism for 15 years. Like Michaels, he impacted the careers of hundreds of business journalists. Steiger will also be known as the last ME who ran the paper for the Bancroft family.

7. BusinessWeek’s changes. From the launch of a new Chicago edition to a redesign to the departure of a dozen staff members near the end of the year, this weekly business magazine is trying to remake itself under new editor Stephen Adler. So far, advertising is not following.

8. The lost stand-alone business section. Among the newspapers that cut their stand-alone business section in 2007 were the Columbus Dispatch, Reno Gazette-Journal, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Akron Beacon-Journal. Frankly, I thought there would be more.

9. Philadelphia Inquirer sells sponsorship to biz section. The logo of a certain bank is located on the masthead of the section, as well as at the top of the Philly Inc. column. An ad for the bank appears at the bottom of the front page. While many were up in arms about such a deal, it brought the section additional staff members, and doesn’t seem to have affected its coverage.

10. The growing importance of the Internet. From the 1 million subscribers to WSJ.com to the major redesign at Fortune.com to the launch of Portfolio.com and FoxBusiness.com, among others, everyone is scrambling to find business news and opinion readers on the Web.

Did I miss anything important? If so, post a comment.

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