September 28th is when the financial crisis jumped to a huge named story as it exploded in news references (see the Google Trend chart that lists news references as compared to another term then in use, "Wall Street Crisis", which became "The Financial Crisis"). Sept. 28 is when I began studying the story as it was played out in the media. It has become an ongoing top story driving media to change to provide 24/7 real time news.
A study by ComScore for September found that "The Financial Crisis" caused a spike to online financial news sites as markets became chaotic, major banks crumbled and Congress worked to pass the $700B bailout to stabilize the markets. According to the study, "Business/finance – news/research web sites saw a substantial increase in visitation in September, gaining 9 percent to more than 64 million visitors, while also increasing 16 percent in pages viewed and 29 percent in total time spent. These increases suggest that not only were more people visiting the sites in the category, but that they viewed more articles and content for longer periods of time on average."
Big winners: Yahoo! Finance led the category with nearly 20 million visitors, a 30-percent jump from August; FoxBusiness.com (up 127 percent to 1.2 million visitors); and Google Finance (up 67 percent to 1.4 million visitors).
Major media outlets are scrambling to cover the story. Good coverage means stronger audience ratings and what could be better for some of the media than to keep updated stories as the Dow and business stories break in real time? Opportunities like these are ones to gain new readers. Some say this story could be the death of network news and print daily media in some markets. The day I started studying the media, the New York Sun shut down.
The Wall Street Journal, the historical business daily, fails to put a date and time stamp on its online version making it impossible to determine how fresh the news is. Immediacy and ability to keep readers informed is leading to quick changes. I would bet that WSJ sees a decline in online readers over this story. Last week the NYTimes and WashPost began to link to outside sources.
On Thursday last week, WashPost launched a special section, Economy Watch, to give better understanding of the "unfolding financial crisis" and Editors weblog notes that some features include all sorts of ways to interact with the story. A link to the section runs across the front of the online front page, a nice feature that allows readers to jump right to that section.
Last week was the week that the story jumped to major importance on online national news pages with new graphics to focus audience attention, links, timestamps and section heads. Even Drudge and the Huffington Post moved to make the story the top one. Drudge put a real-time Yahoo! finance Dow chart on the top-left of the page and the Huffington Post created a BigNews page for financial stories.
This has been a complicated story to tell and one that has breaking news that can impact markets.
During the week of October 6 - 12, the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that the The Financial Crisis was the top story in Online News stories and newspapers while the 2008 Campaign filled 62% of the cable news and was the top story across all media.
According to the Pew News Index, one can see how the story is covered in various outlets during the week of October 6 - 12: Just to compare two media outlets in covering The Financial Crisis, radio gave the 2008 Camp 55% attention and the financial crisis/ bailout got 24% of the radio news attention. In contrast, newspapers gave 42% of the space for news stories to the financial crisis/bailout while campaign news got 25% of the space.
A Pew Research survey for People & The Press on October 15 found that Americans are concerned about the nation’s economic problems almost to the exclusion of every other issue. The WashPost has quickly scrambled to provide deeper information to readers. It's Economy Watch link, across the top of the front page last Thursday and Friday, moved off front page to the top of the Business section after Friday and Monday's markets calmed down.