Skip to main content

Media titan Michael Bloomberg reckons business journalism in the UK needs a shot in the arm.


By Simon Neville

As someone who ran the business desk for the Press Association until just two weeks ago, I agree.

The desire for financial and economic news has never been higher. It has dominated the news agenda for much of the past two years and with a cost-of-living crisis upon us, inflation at a 40-year high and a recession on the horizon, it will not be returning to its position as an afterthought at the end of a BBC bulletin any time soon.

Five years ago, you would be laughed out of the room for suggesting the top item on a news programme should be on the Office for National Statistics’ often dreary inflation data.

Yet on Wednesday evening, the BBC, ITV News and Channel 4 News all led on the 9% inflation story.

I spent much of the past two years fending off requests from PA’s news editor for even more business coverage and I can only see this trend continuing. It felt at times during the height of the supply chain crisis that every industry and trade body had something to say.

Bloomberg has therefore announced the launch of a new UK-focused business news website.

He sees a gap in the market with casual observers keen to better understand the business landscape and figure out either where to invest their money or to simply try and get to grips with topics that increasingly impact all our lives on a daily basis.

The Financial Times has been having similar thoughts on the subject too.

Last month it launched its own service for casual users - FT Edit - where for a small fee (at least when compared to the standard fees for a pink ‘un subscription) users are presented with ten stories a day, tailored to each users’ needs.

Other outlets are looking at ways to specifically target causal readers of business news and expect to see further innovations in the space.

But, as the former New York Mayor pointed out at the launch of Bloomberg UK: “More outlets prioritise eyeballs over brains, the need for hard-nosed reporting and hard-headed analysis is growing.

“That is especially true given the noticeable and regrettable decline in coverage of business news.”

And that is why future innovations are likely to be away from the traditional mainstream media, as newspapers in particular continue to cut costs to manage declining revenues.

You just need to look at the changes on national newspaper business desks in the past ten years to see the shift occurring. The Guardian and Observer; the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, the Mirror and Express and, most recently, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday have all merged their business units.

This means more pressure on smaller units to not only write on diary day-to-day news but also bring in scoops.

The final holdout is the Times and Sunday Times. But with the Government allowing its owner, News UK, the ability to no longer keep the publications separate, it could only be a matter of time before the two come closer together.

So, Bloomberg is right - there is huge demand for business news as the topics at play remain high in the overall news agenda, at a time when supply is shrinking.

For media-watchers keep an eye out on where the innovations will come because the appetite for business news remains - just not necessarily in the places we might traditionally expect.