TheBusinessDesk.com really means business

No apologies for this shameless plug for the web business I work for - TheBusinessDesk.com - because it's a big day for us as we launch new features which in my view take us to a whole new level.

We've just added a new shares & markets channel, which for our business and financially-focused readership is a significant addition to the existing diet of company and economic news from their regions.

But we've not just plugged in a vanilla-flavoured national feed from one of the financial newswires - rather we've worked with the
team at Money AM to create a bespoke, regionally-slanted share price and market news service that plays to our USP.

Sure, not everyone is a share price junkie, and the professional market-watchers have their own data feeds. But we're not aiming to compete with Bloomberg and Reuters. We want to give our readers a live window into the markets to help them in their day-to-day business lives. They can keep an eye on the main markets, the region's best and worst performing listed companies, and drill into detailed company data when they need to know more about a rival or a potential client.

To me, this is a prime and living example of the importance of data as an essential adjunct to journalism. Some readers - business focussed or not - know exactly the information they want and when and how they want it. They don't necessarily want to negotiate the editorial decision making process and finely honed prose of a journalist to get to it.

This underlines to me how publishers should recognise that 'media' isn't only about 'journalism'. The debate that rages constantly about the 'future of the media' seems obsessed only with one small part of that future - journalism (and how to pay for it).

But it's never been just about journalism. The reasons readers bought newspapers in their millions were many and complex - and not always about the page three lead. What about the TV listings, the racecards, the what's on guide? The edges were coloured in by journalism, sure, but all the reader really wanted to know was what time to set the VCR.  And, painful though it is for the proud journalist to admit, those reams and reams of jobs, property and car ads were as much a reason to buy a paper for most readers as that insightful analysis of last Tuesday's health committee meeting.

This in no way diminishes the journalism, which in every reader survey I ever saw as a newspaper editor was rated the single most important reason to buy a paper.  Rather, I think, it reminds us that it's the whole package that counts, and it's important to get the balance right.

I hope this latest development at TheBusinessDesk.com helps us to get closer to getting the balance right for our readers.

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