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Reynolds Center Study Explores Business Blogs

April 23, 2007

Three-fourths of the nation’s largest newspapers now offer blogs on business-related topics, according to a study released by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University.

These popular online Web journals written by reporters get breaking news to readers more quickly, according to 60 percent of the business bloggers who responded to the study.

However, more than half of respondents also said this takes away from their regular reporting time.

“Newspapers, reporters and businesses are grappling with the pros and cons of blogging,” said Andrew Leckey, director of the Reynolds Center, which funded the study. “Our practical research was designed to see how widespread blogging on business topics actually is, what’s propelling it and how it affects the overall news process.”

The two-part study consisted of a content analysis of 100 randomly selected newspapers and a survey that received 44 responses from active business bloggers. Their blogs represent topics ranging from individual industries to investments and corporate governance.

The research was conducted by Stephen Doig, the Knight Chair at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, working in conjunction with the Reynolds Center staff.

Other content findings:

  • Business blogs haven’t caught on at smaller papers. While 38 of the largest 50 newspapers have a business-related blog and 24 of them have two or more, fewer than one in 10 papers overall has one.
  • Some business bloggers post frequently, particularly at larger papers, but the median number of postings overall is just three per week.
  • The median number of reader comments to business blogs over a two-week period was nine, but many received no responses.

The survey of bloggers found that:

  • Half of the responding business bloggers said they receive one to five reader comments for each posting, while one-third received no responses.
  • Half the respondents said it was their own idea to start the blog.
  • Only two respondents said they get paid extra for their postings.

“Newspapers clearly need to be experimenting with blogs as another way of reaching readers beyond the printed page,” Doig said. “But it’s less clear at this point that blogs give an immediate payoff in increased readership for most news sites.”

The Reynolds Center staff will formally present the study’s findings at a daylong workshop in Anaheim, Calif., on May 19, titled, “The New Business Section: From blogs to HTML to ’round-the-clock coverage.”

Over the past three and a half years, more than 5,000 working journalists from around the country have taken part in workshops and online seminars of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, which is headquartered at the Cronkite School.

The center is funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it is one of the largest private foundations in the United States.