OLD Media Moves

Weekly biz papers becoming more powerful than daily biz sections

January 6, 2010

A story in the January/February issue of Columbia Journalism Review notes that in many metro markets across the country, the weekly business newspaper is running more business news content than what readers are getting in the daily newspaper.

Chris Roush writes, “The shift could have broad implications, because weeklies and dailies have traditionally defined their missions in different ways. Dailies have generally paid more attention to the big, public companies in most metro markets. Fewer reporters and a smaller newshole may make them weaker watchdogs—which could mean they’ll miss the next Enron scandal when it occurs. Weeklies, on the other hand, have historically focused more on breaking news about smaller companies.

“Their new prominence could help correct the press’s relative lack of attention to small and privately held companies, which account for 99.7 percent of all businesses and more than 50 percent of the non-farm private sector workforce. Weeklies have also traditionally been more aggressive in coverage of local real estate—in fact, many of them warned earlier this decade about problems in their local housing markets, though their warnings didn’t reach a broad audience.

“But those old mission statements may now be up for review. Whitney Shaw, the CEO of American City Business Journals, says that as dailies cede ground in coverage of transportation, education, technology, and health care, each becomes a ‘ripe area’ for the weeklies to ‘enhance and expand their coverage.'”

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