OLD Media Moves

What to do with Wednesday biz sections?

December 29, 2006

The decision by the Nasdaq and New York Stock Exchange to close trading on Jan. 2 in observance of the death of former president Gerald Ford has put business editors in a tough spot as to what they do with their section on Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Tim Steller, business editor of the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, explains. He wrote, “One thing that I’m dealing with today, and that I assume a lot of other biz editors are confronting, is what to do with Wednesday’s section. The U.S. markets are going to be closed unexpectedly Tuesday for Gerald Ford’s services.

“So, for those of us who still have significant stock and market listings (we have almost 2 pages), do we convert to our usual post-holiday treatment (1 page inside Metro) or do we go with our usual Monday size (4-page section). We definitely won’t be going with the usual 6-page Wednesday section.”

Andre JacksonAndre Jackson, the business editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said, “We’ve downsized newshole a bit to accommodate the closed markets, meaning our section will likely appear inside either metro or sports, as it does on other market holidays.”

Stephen Keating, the business editor at the Denver Post, said that because his paper cut its stock listings earlier this year and now provides that data on its web site, there will be no changes to the section. “Lacking market activity Tuesday will slow the national business news flow, but we’ll have a full reporting staff to chase stories for Stephen KeatingWednesday’s business section,” he said. “Our individual stock and fund listings are on the web, not in the newspaper, so we don’t expect any changes to news hole.”

John Kroll, deputy business editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, said his paper will maintain its standalone-section status. “No nuance to the decision; I made it as soon as Nasdaq made the call,” he said. “I was the only editor in the department yesterday and today.We drop a little more than a page which would normally have been filled with market info. But we always maintain a section front and some space inside. We’ll have our full staff back on Tuesday, and I suspect we’ll have year-end wire copy left over to use no matter how quiet the news is.”

Tom Griscom, editor and publisher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, said his paper will handle the Wednesday business section like Tuesday. He said, “With the markets closed for the holiday, we will have a four-page business section in the Times Free Press on Tuesday. The same will apply to Wednesday. There will be additional business news in print and online on both days. With a scaled down staff on Monday, we made sure our page layout staff was aware of the additional four-page section.”

Mary Cornatzer, the business editor at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., said her paper hasn’t made a decision yet.

“We can’t do a four page section on the presses, and I don’t think I have the reporting resources or the wire news to fill a 6 page section without stocks,” she said. “We may be 2 or 3 pages behind Sports, which is what we often do when the market is closed. But I’m still awaiting a decision.”

What are others doing? One business editor told me off the record that he’s trying to maintain as many pages as possible so that the section doesn’t seem dispensable when the markets are closed.

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