OLD Media Moves

Using spin to explain cutting of business section

March 16, 2009

Bob O’Brien of Barron’s takes a shot at the Washington Post for how it tried to put a positive spin on the elimination of its business section.

O’Brien writes, “In a press release, the company touted that it would ‘expand a section’ of the paper. Without mentioning that the ‘expansion’ would come at the demise of the business section. Gravitating the business-news coverage to the front section of the paper means ‘business and economics coverage move to the most-read area of the paper.’ That’s a better presumption than saying business news is losing its retail frontage.

“Granted, as the Post itself noted, the move is aimed at creating a ‘leaner’ — i.e., less costly — publication. Given the economics of the newspaper industry, in the face of steep declines in auto, housing and retail advertising revenues, downsizing is preferable to elimination, as has happened in cities such as Tucson, as threatens to happen in Detroit and Seattle, where publications are gravitating to a web-only distribution system. Three weeks ago, the newspaper publishing operations in Philadelphia filed for bankruptcy. Certainly, the additional loss of income from the financial services advertisers would make the perpetuation of the business coverage that much more endangered.

“Still, in the midst of the blitz-storm in the economy and financial services system, depriving readers of business coverage isn’t adding to the collective wisdom of the investor, who relies upon the financial media for guidance. And spinning the elimination of a section of the paper as an ‘expansion’ of the front section is just flat-out disingenuous.”

Read more here.

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