Top 10 business journalism news events of the first six months of 2006

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Here is my list, in descending order, of the top 10 events in business journalism in the first half of 2006. It’s been quite an interesting time, so let’s recap:

10. New Fed chief Ben Bernanke talks to CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo at White House Correspondents’ dinner. Bernanke told Bartiromo at the dinner in late April that the market had misinterpreted his remarks about inflation. Bartiromo dutifully reported the remarks on television the following Monday, causing the market to drop. Some criticized Bartiromo for interviweing Bernanke during a social event, but others criticized Bernanke for talking. Still, the event showed the power of information from the business media.

Albert Crenshaw9. Washington Post buyouts affect biz desk. On June 1, a number of Post reporters and editors took buyout offers from the paper and retired. The business desk was particularly affected, with a number of well-known bylines leaving. Nine business reporters, editors and columnists from a full- and part-time staff of 71 are taking the buyouts. Familiar names to readers include international economics reporter Paul Blustein, who plans to write books; tax specialist Albert B. Crenshaw; and consumer reporter and blogger Caroline E. Mayer. Washington Investing columnist Jerry Knight and business columnist Leslie Walker also left.

8. Newsweek biz editor returns to New York Times. In a sign that the magazine is scaling back its business coverage, business editor Adam Bryant left the magazine in April to return to the Times, where he had been a reporter. Bryant started at the beginning of May to oversee coverage of auto, airline and defense industries. Bryant’s departure, along with others who have left, signaled a de-emphasis on business coverage.

7. New York Times to sell ads on front of business section. Executive Editor Bill Keller announced the decision in June, could potentially set off a wave of similar decisions at other papers and lessen the news hole for business coverage. The Boston Globe, which is owned by the Times, is said to be considering a similar move. First stock listings get cut, and now this.

6. Financial Week’s inaugural issue. The new publication from Crain Communications will serve a niche in the business journalism market by catering to CFOs and others involved with all sorts of financial aspects of the corporate world. But the launch in early June was not without problems. An editor hired to oversee the publication departed, and the weekly newspaper is now seeking a new editor.

Richard Zannino5. New management at Dow Jones. In early January, the parent of the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s announced that CEO Peter Kann and his wife, Karen Elliott House, who was publisher of the Journal, would be leaving the company, and Kann would be replaced by Richard Zannino, who became the first non-journalist in 70 years to run the operation. It remains to be seen whether Zannino’s tenure will be marked by a decline in the top business journalism produced at the publications.

4. Post-Dispatch biz reporter to start ShareSleuth.com. Former St. Louis Post-Dispatch business reporter Christopher Carey left the paper in June to start an investigative business journalism news Web site. But what raised eyebrows was the fact that the site is being funded by billionaire Mark Cuban, who says that he will invest in the stocks mentioned in the reporting before the stories are published. The move raised ethical concerns among many in the business journalism community.

Joanne Lipman3. Conde Nast Portfolio has a name. The new business magazine that aims to compete with Fortune, Forbes and BusinessWeek for advertising dollars and readers finally announced its name. Editor Joanne Lipman has also begun making some editorial hires, including Time’s Matt Cooper and several from Fortune magazine. Despite all the hubbub, the first issue won’t be out until 2007. Right now, it’s all bluster.

2. Overstock’s Patrick Byrne attacks the business press. Byrne, the leader of Internet retailer Overstock.com, has been on the warpath against business journalists. In January, he posted on the Internet interviews that he had done with reporters from BusinessWeek and the New York Post. Since then, he has been attacking other business journalists, including Marketwatch’s Herb Greenberg, accusing them of being in bed with short sellers attempting to drive down the price of his company’s stock. The SEC stepped in and actually subpoenaed three journalists, but the agency has not enforced them yet. Does Byrne’s aggressive tactics signal a new era in the relationship between business journalists and corporate leaders?

And now, from the home office in Chapel Hill, N.C., the top business journalism event in the first half of 2006:

1. The demise of stock listings in daily newspapers. More than 50 newspapers have now announced that they have cut their stock listings dramatically in their business sections. Among the papers to have dropped stock pages are the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Rocky Mountain News, Orange County Register and Orlando Sentinel. In some cases, such as the Cincinnati Enquirer, the move led to the loss of a stand-along business section. I fear that such moves, while they do save paper’s on newsprint costs, are short-sighted, alienate older readers, and force younger readers to get their financial information online.

Want to quibble with my rankings, or my exclusion of any other events in the first six months? Post a reply.