Behind the scenes of the Capital Business launch
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
The Washington Post announced Monday that it would launch Capital Business, a weekly business newspaper, next month. The paper will initially be delivered on Mondays within the Post.
Dan Beyers was named editor of Capital Business. Beyers is special topics editor for business, health, science and the environment at the Post. Before that, he was the local business editor. Beyers is a graduate of American University, where he started all four years on the men’s soccer team. (As for this year’s World Cup, Beyers likes the Ivory Coast to surprise.)
Talking Biz News talked by e-mail this week with Beyers about the new venture. “Capital Business is somewhat unique,” said Beyers. “We are a subscription product offered exclusively to subscribers of The Washington Post. Think of it as HBO on top of your cable subscription.”
What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation.
1. About how big will be the editorial staff in terms of reporters and editors?
This is a start-up embedded within The Washington Post, so I plan to be very creative with the budget I have available, hiring as many people as we can. In numbers, not more than a dozen, but then again, I’m blessed by being part of the wider Post newsroom.
2. Will the reporters have specific beats, and if so, what will those beats be? How were they decided?
We are still working through the beat structure. In general, we will align ourselves along industry lines such as government contracting, the legal community, technology and such. My sense is that that is how the business community aligns itself. I also want us to think geographically. The Washington market is sprawling, spanning Northern Virginia, Maryland and the District. We don’t have one main street; we have several.
3. Where do you hope to hire reporters and editors from, and what type of experience are you looking for?
I’m looking for a range of experience. I’m a big believer that it takes all kinds of produce a great newspaper. We all have something to teach one other.
4. The paper will come out on a Monday. Why?
We picked Monday because that’s the day the Post has traditionally focused its business coverage on the Washington market. It also turns out many companies like to break news Monday, before the markets open. In the same way, publishing Monday allows us to capture news that breaks after the markets close on Friday — a time when some companies push out bad news. Besides, it has always felt natural to me to greet readers at the start of the work week.
5. The Washington Business Journal comes out on Friday. Does the Monday publication put you at a disadvantage?
I don’t see it as a disadvantage or an advantage. If the Business Journal has a great story Friday, we’re going to kick ourselves. If we have a great story Monday, they’ll have several days to think about it.
6. What types of stories will Capital Business cover that the Post would ignore in its business pages?
I’d like to think the Post does not “ignore” coverage. We have to make decisions every day on what we cover with the staff we have available. It’s impossible to be every place all the time. So Capital Business, with its own dedicated staff, will allow us to cover more things, to go into greater depth. More than that, Capital Business will be focused on a particular audience — business people. We hope Capital Business will help them navigate the local economy and its coverage will speak to an entrepreneurial generation. The Washington Post will remain a mass circulation newspaper and continue to cover local business with that broader audience in mind.
7. Can you foresee some overlap in coverage between the two publications, and if so, in what areas?
We are taking steps to minimize overlap. Remember, Capital Business subscribers will also be Washington Post subscribers. Our readers don’t want to read the same story twice. Part of my mandate as Capital Business editor is to coordinate coverage with the daily newspaper so we are not sending two reporters to the same event, etc. There will be times when Capital Business reporters write for the daily and times daily reporters write for Capital Business.
8. It seems as if the editorial content will be similar to the Washington Business Journal. How will you set yourself apart?
I can’t give away all our trade secrets! Suffice it to say we will rely on a proprietary news-gathering algorithm to differentiate ourselves. However, I question the premise, that this is a competition between us and the Business Journal. The journalism landscape these days many many players, online and in print, rivaling for readers’ attention. We don’t take anyone for granted.
9. Will there be an op/ed page in the paper?
We hope to get a lively conversation started in the pages of Capital Business, and will actively solicit thought-provoking commentary.
10. Will the editorial content be more private company coverage, or will it also focus on the public companies in the region?
We will cover companies of all shapes and size, public and private.