Friday, October 29, 2004

Weekly Magazine’s Death

Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER), the leading Asian business and financial newsweekly, will change to monthly magazine in December resulted with the loss of eighty jobs, while real-time media, like Bloomberg News, another financial news provider, is aggressively recruiting people in the same continent.

Dow Jones & Company, who owns FEER, Wall Street Journal and the other vital business and financial news media in the world, today announced that FEER will change its format from a newsweekly to a monthly with the issues and ideas largely written by Asian opinion leaders from the fields of politics, business and academics in December.

Dow Jones Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Peter R. Kann, explained that nearly all other advertising-dependent newsweeklies based in Asia already have succumbed to competition from more immediate media alternatives, and that as a weekly, the Review had lost money for the past six years.

Two weeks before, Dow Jones released the report of Revenue and Profit for Third Quarter 2004. Print Publishing revenue declined $4.0 million, or 1.9%, in the third quarter of 2004 versus the same period a year ago. The detailed number for the loss of FEER is not mentioned.

As a result of format changing, eighty jobs will be reduced, representing about 10% of the company’s total Asia-based employees. After work force reductions, the company will record a restructuring charge, recorded as a special item, of approximately $3 million, or two cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2004.

On the other hand, Bloomberg News, an electronic newspaper as “Tomorrow’s front page”, has been organizing Recruitment Event in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo from October to December. Bruce Grant, Bureau Chief for HK/China operations of Bloomberg, said “We welcome journalists”.

Mr Grant gave a seminar to the journalism students from all top universities of Hong Kong in Oct. 25. He talked about the character of Bloomberg News- “Five Fs”, one of which is “Fastest word”. Users can access to the latest news of Bloomberg 24 hours a day, without waiting for tomorrow’s newspaper, or magazine of next week.

Conceived as an electronic newspaper with main focus on business and financial news and information, Bloomberg News, has more than 1,600 journalists and editors reporting from 94 bureaus. Profit is unknown as the company not listed.

Though Mr. Kann in Daw Jones didn’t mention what the “more immediate media” refers to, “Fastest” Bloomberg should be one of them. Especially in business and financial field, Mr. Grant in Bloomberg said, people want to see the latest news without the limit of news publishing. Businessman can make decisions quickly to earn money or reduce loss.

With 23-year short history, Bloomberg has become the main provider for business and financial news in the world. “Quality and reliability” of the news and information are their main advantages, according to Mr. Grant.

Compared with Bloomberg, FEER is not that “advantageous”. Though set up in 1946, it has to change the format and reduce the staffs to “modestly accretive to full-year 2005 earnings per share” of Dow Jones & Company. Before FEER, AsiaWeek, another leading Asian magazine, ceased publication in Dec, 2001 due to the “financial” problem. Coincidentally, the same number of eighty jobs was eliminated.

AsiaWeek and FEER was said to be the only “two big regional newsweekly” in English.

Mr. Grant is right that most people prefer to see the “fastest” news rather than the weekly ones. But “fastest” will bring big problems to the quality of the news.

When Mr. Grant showed how to use Bloomberg’s news database, Gene Mustain, the journalism professor in the University of Hong Kong, have found many headlines including “may” or “may be”. He said it reduced the “accuracy” of the news and made people confusing.

President of the Foreign Correspondent Club, Matthew C. Driskill mentioned another problem when talking with the journalism students in the University of Hong Kong. International Herald Tribune (IHT), the newspaper where he is working, has collaborated with Bloomberg in one of IHT’s columns- “Business Asia”. He said he had found many stories from Bloomberg are in the “templates”, which means that the news is in fixed format. He said it is ok for general news, but not for certain stories. “Templates” will betray reader’s trust on the newspaper.

Some students said that it could be the trends for the news writing, but Mr. Driskill denied, “If that is the future, I will go to else where to work”.


Fons Tuinstra said...

Well, you can hardly expect Mr. Grant to come to your school and say it will be over next month. The final announcement will only be made at the last minute, up to then management will always pretend there is nothing wrong. The FEER has been trying to get new subscribers up to last week.
Fact is that the market for financial information is very competitive. Only today CNN decided to close down CNNfn, because they were losing money there.
That competition will have an effect on quality, for example by using rather rigid formats for their reporting. Smaller services will eat away the profits of the larger ones like Bloomberg and Reuters, and both will have a very hard time as investors ask for higher and higher returns.

Amy or koala said...

But bloomberg seems more profitable than Reuters. DO you know the reason?