From politics to sports to fashion, Washington, D.C., has a wealth of publications to satisfy any reader. But can the city accommodate one more for the business crowd? D.C. better make space: The Washington Post will debut Capital Business in April with a bold new business plan.
Last March, the Washington Post eliminated its daily business section and tucked a condensed version into the A section. The remaining Sunday business section is “geared more towards a general news audience and its personal finance concerns,” said Capital Business editor Dan Beyers in an e-mail interview. Capital Business, a weekly newspaper tabloid, will especially cater to the business community. Beyers said it will focus on regional business news, “and it will pay close attention to major industries such as government contracting, technology, the legal community, commercial real estate, finance, [and] associations.” The Capital Business team will collaborate with the Washington Post newsroom, but will have its own dedicated staff to manage the full plate of business topics.
The catch is that interested readers can only get their hands on Capital Business if they are already subscribers to the Washington Post. Existing seven-day subscribers will receive the publication free on Mondays for the first few weeks, before having the option to subscribe for about $50 a year. Beyers compared the model to “subscribing to HBO as a part of your cable television subscription.”
But in a modern reality where newspaper subscriptions are dwindling, will the model work? Chris Roush of the University of North Carolina and the Talking Biz News blog says it might. “Business news has been the one area of journalism that people have been willing to pay for across all forms,” he said in an e-mail. “If the Post is successful in doing this, then I could see a lot of metro dailies doing this across the country.” Capital Business could provide a new revenue stream to combat its declining traditional ones, he noted.
The Capital region is not short on business news. “Capital Business is going up against one of the strongest American City Business Journals papers in its 40-paper chain,” Roush warned of the highly successful Washington Business Journal.
Beyers seems ready to compete. “The market here is huge,” he said, citing the city’s relatively low unemployment rate and its many goods and services offered. “In a market that big, there seems to be plenty of room for a publication like this to flourish.” With a weekly print publication and online content, Capital Business is likely to lock in advertisers who seek a targeted audience. The effectiveness of online advertising is largely uncertain, but readers may appreciate relevant advertisements in the business tabloid. For advertisers, Capital Business is just one more place to invest.
“The Post may actually be the first major metro to realize that the dailies have spent the past five years killing off their business readers by cutting stock listings, cutting the standalone section, etc.,” Roush said. “They have to think outside the box if they want to recapture some of those readers.” For readers who crave local business news, Capital Business may be a worthy subscription – but only if those readers are also fans of the Washington Post.
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