BY VICTOR OCASIO
Dow Jones News Fund Business Intern
NEW YORK — In broadcast network news, the day-to-day world of Wall Street is one far removed from target audiences. For producers, business news comes down to one key interest group – the consumer.
Members of the 2014 Dow Jones News Fund Business Residency program, which pairs hand-picked student journalists from around the country with suitable business and news media outlets, met with producers of NBC News’ Nightly News with Brian Williams to discuss how broadcasters handle the task of covering business news on Thursday (May 29).
“Programs like Nightly News, which brings in an average of 8 million viewers a night, must often tailor business coverage to meet the needs and interests of more general audiences. The result is an increased interest in personal finance stories over in-depth marketplace stories.”
“The kind of news that we do for Nightly and the Today Show is more consumer driven,” said Maria Alcon, business news producer for Nightly News. “On a broadcast level, I think everyone focuses on personal finance.
Alcon, previously deputy editor of NBCLatino, said that in network broadcasting it’s all about “news you can use.”
“Pop business,” as she calls it, is a broad-stroke approach to business journalism that favors stories and information more relevant to Main Street than to stockbrokers and investors. Stories about rising beef prices or the hottest consumer tech take precedence over company earnings reports and corporate acquisitions.
The business reporting of The Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg target a niche audience not representative of average viewers, and with newscast runtimes of roughly 23 minutes, tough decisions on what stories should air have to be made quickly. It’s an issue that NBC’s competition considers as well.
“When you’re working on a network level you have to hit all the masses,” said Kurt Davis, vice president of news services at CBS News and a program faculty visitor. “You have to have it be not so laser focused, and instead broaden it up a bit.”
Davis, who worked as executive news director at CBS affiliate KENS-TV in San Antonio, Texas, and as news director in several other markets, said that while some business market stories are too important to ignore, personal finance remains strongly at the forefront of broadcast business journalism
“If the Dow Jones crashes, that’s a big story. If it looks like it might hit 17,000 at some point, that’s going to be a big story. But just the day-to-day numbers of Wall Street, that won’t make it in the newscast,” said Davis. “It has to have some consumer base and consumer interest.”
A native of Orlando, Florida, VICTOR OCASIO is a 2014 Dow Jones News Fund business reporting intern, and he is working as a business reporter intern at Newsday on Long Island this summer. He is University of Central Florida student majoring in communication, social sciences and digital media scheduled to graduate this fall. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or ?@Victor_Ocasio on Twitter. Please include #DJNFBiz14 when posting or tweeting about/to Victor and the Dow Jones News Fund business reporting program.