Biz editors adjust to market closures due to Sandy

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Stock listings

As Hurricane Sandy wreaks havoc along the Atlantic coast, forcing markets in New York to close on Monday and Tuesday, business editors around the country are adjusting their coverage and sections.

The market closure means that daily newspapers that typically run stock agate on a daily basis now have to find other content to fill that space.

Adam Goodman, the deputy managing editor of local and business news at the S. Louis Post-Dispatch, tells Talking Biz News that the half page reserved for markets coverage and stock agate is going to the national desk for hurricane coverage.

“Most of that space is where our market agate would have run,” said Goodman. “This is easy for us to do since our business pages run inside the A section on those days anyway. We are using the remaining portion of our space for our local business stories and wire.”

Jim Wright, the business editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, said that the market closing doesn’t affect his plans that much.

“We don’t do much personal finance coverage, so a market closure doesn’t do much to us,” said Wright. “We’ll put local and wire copy in the 3/4-page space where the stock table normally runs on Tuesday, and likely give up a little space on Wednesday.”

Michael Lev, the associate managing editor for business at the Chicago Tribune, says the paper didn’t make many adjustments.

“We’ve got more than a full page of coverage of Sandy for Tuesday’s paper, but we didn’t need to make any adjustments to deal with the market closure because we print only a half-page of markets highlights each day,” said Lev. ”It’s not like the old days of publishing three or four full pages of markets info.”

Chris Dinsmore, the business editor of the Baltimore Sun, says his staff is busy focusing on covering the business aspects of the storm.

“My staff is focused on covering the business aspects of the storm’s impact and the ongoing saga of power outages,” he said. “In our Tuesday section, we’re running a story on the market’s unusual closing and plugged the ½-page market hole with wire. We’ll plug again tomorrow.”

The business editors in Charlotte and Miami also focused their coverage on local angles.

“Because Miami is a tourism and transportation hub, we’re watching the impacts of the storm and its aftermath on airlines and cruise lines,” said Jane Wooldridge, the business editor at the Miami Herald. “The regions are closely aligned, so we’re keeping a tight watch on what is happening there. Because we do still run stock results in print daily — we have a substantially large market that does not go online — we have devoted the space we would normally give to stocks in our B section to storm coverage, redeploying that space to our A / national pages.”

Added John Arwood, the business editor of the Charlotte Observer: “We assigned three business reporters to write about the effects of the storm on Carolinas businesses, from US Airways, to Lowe’s to Duke Energy. For our print edition, the closing of the markets — and the absence of stock listings today — gave us a bit of extra news hole on the main Business page. That allowed us to give plenty of good display space to our package on the storm’s business effects. That package included the Carolinas impact story, a main story from the business wires, and two boxes. Normally the stock listings would take up a strip across the bottom of the page about 2.5 inches deep. We were glad to have that space back today.”

Gordon Oliver, the business editor of the Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., tells Talking Biz News that his staff is looking for that local angle as well.

“We are expecting earnings from a local bank tomorrow,” he said. “I called to see if they will still file earnings even if the market is closed and haven’t heard back. That will of course affect our coverage. AP has given us a menu of choices to partially replace the markets page. We haven’t decided whether to pull something together or land a full-page add that needs to go somewhere before the end of November. We also are checking to see if local companies have any role in disaster response, but haven’t come up with one yet. I’m writing a Sunday column about the local utility’s preparedness for a big storm, and how that’s changed in the 50 years since this region’s biggest and most infamous windstorm.”

Jill Jorden Spitz, SABEW’s president and assistant managing editor of business at the Arizona Daily Star, said her business section dropped to one page from its normal two pages because of the storm.