SmartMoney using readers to guide economic turmoil content

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TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

Like BusinessWeek, which is soliciting story ideas from its readers online, personal finance magazine SmartMoney is also tapping into its readers and their issues with the current market turmoil to guide its coverage.

SmartMoney.com editor Tom Weber tells Talking Biz News that the magazine recently set up an online financial crisis answer center for readers to share their questions about the current economic upheaval. There’s also a toll-free number for readers to call.

“We’ve found that the queries our readers submit shed a good deal of light on which issues are of greatest concern right now,” says Weber. “And what we’re learning from readers is informing our future coverage decisions.”

Weber declined to discuss stories the magazine has in the pipeline, but he did provide some examples of past stories.

“One example is reader frustration,” says Weber. “I can tell you we got complaints about not being able to reach brokers during the hectic days in the market. That lead to a piece where we tested broker response times ourselves.

“More generally, we’ve also been struck by the level of detail in many of the questions and concerns from our reades. It’s not just ‘should I get out of the stock market?’ but ‘are money-market accounts or muni bonds really safe?’.

“It’s been a reminder that Americans have become incredibly sophisticated about their personal finances, more than you think. We’re adjusting to include even more detail in our stories.”