SABEW to ASNE: Keep Biz Journos

By: E&P Staff

In an open letter Wednesday, the largest organization of business reporters and editors urged members of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) to spare their business journalists from further cuts.

“As business journalists, we realize better than anyone else in the newsroom that times are tough in the newspaper industry because we’ve been writing the stories about the companies in the business being sold or broken up,” Dave Kansas, president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), wrote in a letter delivered to editors attending ASNE’s annual convention in Washington, D.C.

“We’ve also written that hundreds of reporters and editors have been laid off or offered buyouts in an attempt to keep profits at previous levels,” Kansas, editor of The Wall Street Journal’s Money & Investing section, added. “We know the industry needs to adapt to maintain its relevance to readers. Some of the biggest changes in the industry have occurred within business sections, such as cutting stock listings, the combination of business and news desks, and placing more breaking business news on newspaper web sites.”

But the SABEW president cites research from Harvard University business school professor Gregory Miller that suggests business reporting is in a new golden age. Miller’s study in the Journal of Accounting Research showed that nearly one-third of the accounting improprieties uncovered at companies are first discovered by business journalists, Kansas said. “

That means the business press often scooped the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), Eliot Spitzer and Wall Street analysts,” Kansas wrote.

He quotes Miller as saying the “analytical skill set that’s developed in the last fifteen or twenty years amongst business press journalists is amazing.”

Writing on behalf of the 3,200-member organization — most of them employed by newspapers — Kansas urged ASNE editors to “preserve the aggressive and hard-hitting coverage that your business news desk has provided” over the years.

“Strong business coverage has, time and time again, proven to be a good thing for newspapers readers,” Kansas wrote.

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