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The state of stock tables in business pages

Stock market tables in daily newspapers began shrinking more than a decade ago. In 2007, about two-thirds of the nation’s 1,400 daily newspapers still print some form of stock market tables, but virtually none print anything close to a full list of stock results.

This research by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism studied a variety of stock market table characteristics, including the number of pages devoted to tables in daily newspapers. The research found that about one-third of small-circulation daily newspapers print no stock market tables, not even a summary of the day’s market activity. In contrast, large newspapers (daily circulation of 100,000 or more) are more generous than the smaller ones in their printing of stock tables. Still, less than one-third of the large papers print less than a full page of stock tables and only one in five devote as much as two pages to stock tables.

The two-part study consisted of a content analysis of 122 newspaper business sections and an online survey of large newspaper business editors. Research was conducted by Stephen Doig, the Knight Chair at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism, working in conjunction with the Reynolds Center staff.

Other content findings:

• Thirty-four percent of all business sections analyzed did not offer any stock market tables. Nearly all were small-circulation papers. In contrast, all but one all of large newspapers analyzed offered stock tables of some sort.
• The average amount of space devoted by all papers to financial stock tables today is a bit more than one-third of a page. Among the big papers, the average is a page and a half.
• Of those that do offer stock listings, the most common table is “local interest stocks.”
• The potential news hole created by cutting back or eliminating stock listings has not meant increased space for other business news. About three-quarters of U.S. newspapers today offer just one page – or less – of business news. Even among the big papers, two-thirds offer business sections of six or fewer pages, which often include at least one full-page ad.
• Only about one out of every eight daily papers in the country puts business news in its own section with a section front. By contrast, almost all of the big papers run separate business sections.

The survey of editors found that:

• About three-fourths of the editors reported that their newspapers had “cut back considerably” in recent years on the depth and breadth of the stock market tables they published.
• However, most also said that the savings in space wasn’t used to enhance business coverage. Four out of every five respondents said that either there was no increase in editorial space or cuts were made to space and/or staff.

To see full research report click here.

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