Local biz sections dying

The Denver Post becomes the latest large-city metro to eliminate its stand-alone business section (the Register made a similar move several weeks back). It's the predictable consequence of eliminating stock tables (they have become anachronisms in the online age) and then not having enough ad support to justify holding onto those pages. So I suppose we're back to those ghastly pre-1980s business sections, which were made up of wire service recaps and the occasional PR-generated local business feature (good times were had by all). They were not only boring but thoroughly credulous - a journalistic joke. And the really sad thing is no one seems to think it's a big deal - syndicated Chicago Tribune business columnist Andrew Leckey, who runs the Arizona State's National Center for Business Journalism, told Ad Age that the impact will be limited because "business news has gradually leaked into other pages." Does he really believe that? Does he really think there will be any place for a tough enterprise piece on a local company? More from Ad Age:

While the cuts are a source of much consternation among business journalists -- and also to public-relations executives at small local firms and agencies that may have trouble securing news coverage without them -- analysts, advertisers and publishers say that the stand-alone sections were relatively poor sources of ad revenue that tended to be overmatched by national and online competition on anything beyond the most hyperlocal stories. "We've never had much use for local business sections with B-to-B clients," said Andrew Swinand, the top print buyer at Starcom USA, whose clients include major business advertisers such as Oracle.


In addition to the large papers in Denver and Orange County, others that have cut their standalone sections include the Akron Beacon- Journal and Cincinnati Enquirer (both Ohio); Reno (Nev.) Gazette- Journal; and the Monterey (Calif.) Herald. In most cases, the sections continued to exist in smaller formats, consolidated into other sections. Andrea Mathewson, publisher of the Akron-Beacon Journal, which merged its weekday business section into the sports section, said the advertising impact has been minimal. "There really wasn't much support for the stand-alone anyhow," she said.

So I guess the people have spoken. Just don't come back after the next subprime crisis and wonder why there weren't more reporters digging into misdeeds. That is, if we have any reporters by then.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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