New technology sections introduced in Business Day and WSJ: here’s why

Business Day Tech section

Most probably by coincidence, both South Africa and Wall Street’s most authoritative business newspapers introduced brand-new dedicated technology sections to their newspapers today.

Times Media Group’s Business Day introduced a weekly “Innovations” section which, by the look of it, seems to be focused on digital trends more than technology news per se. For example, the front page of the first supplement — which will appear every Tuesday — looks at Artificial Intelligence and its progress over the last few years.

On the exact same day, The Wall Street Journal renamed their “Marketplace” section to “Business & Tech” because, says business editor Dennis Berman, “every business is a technology business”. It’s the first time this notable section to the paper has been renamed since 1988.

Technology overtaking business news

Both additions speak to a sector in business news that has become bigger and more important than general company and markets news, especially since Apple, Microsoft and Google have grown to become some of the largest public companies by market capitalisation today.

“Over the years the readership of Business Day has changed,” writes editor Songezo Zibi. “We have to cater for the needs of our full spectrum of readers, otherwise we risk alienating those who should be reading us but find little reason to do so right now.”

Over at the WSJ, editor in chief Gerard Baker writes in an e-mail that their renamed section emphasises “the way technology is changing companies”. Says Berman:

“Whether it’s taxi cabs or taco delivery, today’s enterprises are urgently figuring out ways to manage the growth of information technology and to turn its disruptive potential to their advantage…. [Tech] will increasingly guide nearly every function in the modern enterprise.”

Attempt at growing advertising revenues

This isn’t necessarily a change brought about due to the increased popularity of technology news or websites like our own, but rather one driven by a financial incentive. Both News Corporation (WSJ‘s parent company) and Times Media have seen shrinking advertising revenues and are desperately changing their product to attract both an audience and advertisers eager for more tech-centric content.

Suffering major advertising deficits, The Media Online reported this week that Business Day is shedding 10 editorial jobs because of its under-performing advertising. Other cost-saving measures include “negotiations with data suppliers for better rates” and freezing salaries.

Similarly the WSJ announced big layoffs last year. According to Capital New York, part of News Corp’s strategy behind the new “Business & Tech” section is to capitalise on a 2 percent increase they’ve seen in advertising from tech companies. If those same companies intend to advertise with Business Day, it would make sense for Times Media to follow their example.

Regardless of advertising, these new sections will encourage and give more access to the type of long-form tech journalism that has recently proliferated at Bloomberg, Reuters and the Financial Times, wire services both WSJ and Business Day subscribe to.



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