In a world where many people (most?) get their stock quotes by merely going to the myriad online sites that publish and update them for free (or get them on your cell phone, PDA, Blackberry, etc.), how much longer until Washington’s newspapers pull the plugs on publishing stock tables that take up valuable real estate? (Peter Zollman estimates that cutting just one page a day could save a few million a year…maybe then the Post won’t have to encourage potluck lunches?).
The Chicago Tribune has already ceased publication of stock tables. And Newsday just recently followed suit. The Poynter Institute’s Steve Outing has a few thoughts on the subject:
I think it’s time to abandon stock and mutual-fund listings on weekdays, and rather refer print-edition readers to the newspaper’s website and telephone service. Offer customizable stock e-mail and cell-phone services. Do publish major stock listings in print on Sundays, however.
Printed stock listings in the broadband-Internet era strike me as a waste of space that could be used for expanded business coverage and/or more useful news and information. My guess is that the reduction moves by these papers were made because a wholesale slashing of the listings might cause a consumer uproar from those still clinging to the old way. I won’t criticize that cautious approach; it’s probably smart. Yet I wonder just how many complaints a newspaper actually would get if it went cold turkey on all its printed stock listings. As long as it offered quality and free alternatives, I suspect the outcry would be small and brief.