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Wednesday's Wake Up Call!: Readers want more financial news
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By Lisa Glowinski
Penny Riordan manages digital content partnerships for GateHouse Media. She works out of the Center for News and Design in Austin. Prior to joining the company, she worked at Patch.com for four years, where she led social media, blogging and UGC ...
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Penny Riordan manages digital content partnerships for GateHouse Media. She works out of the Center for News and Design in Austin. Prior to joining the company, she worked at Patch.com for four years, where she led social media, blogging and UGC efforts for the company. She also launched a Patch site in Maryland. Penny has also worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Maryland and Connecticut.
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Feb. 8, 2012 12:01 a.m.


According to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, media consumers want more news about the economy.



This is despite other Pew reports that the economy was the No. 1 story in American news media in 2011.



The disconnect here may be that readers want to know more about how the economy is affecting their bottom lines -- their savings, their home values, their jobs -- instead of statistics and surveys.



Or, they want to understand more complicated issues, such as China's and Europe's effects on our economy, or economic terms.



Ways to help educate your readers:



-- First, educate your staff. Do your reporters know percent from percentage points? Mean from median? Find a local professor who can teach staff the basics in an afternoon session at your newspaper. Download this free "open source" intro to economics textbook from a professor at Caltech. While journalists have to have a little knowledge about a whole lot of things, this is one area worth investing more time in learning about.



-- Share your knowledge. When you learn a little something about the economy -- maybe it's what Greek's debt crisis is all about, or what the latest foreclosure settlement talks will mean for your state, or just what a term like "derivative" means -- write about it. Maybe it's not your centerpiece, but I bet readers would love a weekly feature explaining an economic term. Sounds like a cool blog, too.



-- Collect local resources. Here are some data sources via Poynter, and here are more on local spending via Poynter's NewsU. What data do your local banks, economic development groups, Realtors and chamber of commerce have access to? Can you get that data? Why or why not?



-- Be (at least) as curious as your readers are. So home prices/unemployment/auto sales rose/fell/were flat to last month/last year/last quarter. What does it mean to you, the journalist? Thinking about that may help you answer readers' biggest question: "What does it mean to me?"

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