Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
At the latest breakfast briefing Gorkana met David Wighton, Business and City Editor at The Times and Ian King, Deputy Business Editor.
Both joined the paper in 2008; David from the Financial Times *and Ian having been Business Editor at *The Sun. The paid content debate, their current agenda and PR's involvement in business news were among issues discussed.
*The Times *Today
The decision to begin charging for *The Times? *online offering indicates serious investment in this area. David describes initial results as successful, with positive feedback from early users and the decrease in traffic not as heavy as predicted. Rumours suggest 150,000 trialling the content online and the iPad gaining 12,500 users, although official figures are as yet unknown.
Today's readership of The Times *is a young, professional demographic with an appetite for business news. David believes their willingness to pay for news online represents a "deeper relationship" that provides great opportunity. One example of this is *The Times Plus Service, offering added value through discounts to galleries and museums and the chance to hear journalists speak on their specialist subjects. A hope for the future is that data from online subscribers will provide greater insight into exactly what the Times readership wants.
Making Business News
Currently, the paywall has not affected content but adjusting it to reflect what paying users want in the future is not ruled out. Everything and anything can make business news in David and Ian's eyes, who are driven by events rather than focusing on a particular theme. They are keen to maintain their leadership in coverage of professional services but report on anything from sport to politics.
However, their advice to PR's on providing them with stories of particular interest at the moment would be to give examples of how companies are "cutting their cloth to adapt to changing conditions". They are keen to hear about how CEOs are dealing with the challenge of "doing more with less", a topical issue affecting every business including their own, as well as making the most of exciting new opportunities.
PR's can also assist Ian and David by putting forward clients for the business profile pages. Points to bear in mind are that big shot of the week only deals with someone seen in the news that week, and that the Monday Manifesto is heavily oversubscribed with a backlog of interviews for the next few months. However they are keen to hear suggestions for their At Leisure feature, which profiles a business professional doing an activity they enjoy and benefits from the increased Saturday circulation.
Getting In Contact
Regarding types of information to approach David and Ian with and the best way to do this, some suggestions were made.
Research can be very useful and is something David has drawn on in his column recently. It is a good idea to send this to them directly as it may not find its way to them from elsewhere in the department.
Academic comment can also be invaluable to them. Niche and new ideas from a source that knows the subject inside out are more likely to be used.
Exclusives are attractive to an extent but not of paramount importance to them. A good story covered elsewhere will always take precedence over a weak exclusive.
David views getting out and seeing people key and they regularly go on breakfast and lunch meetings - mornings are better. When asked about the dilemma PR's face in deciding whether to get in contact to see if they are going to run something, the advice is that emails are always welcome.
Daily Schedule at *The Times *Business Section
9am - David and Ian are in the office, having consumed business news from a variety of sources including The Telegraph, the FT, New York Times and Today programme.
10am - Departmental meeting; news list for the day begins to be formed.
11am until around midday - Main newspaper conference takes place.
After this - David and Ian sit down with the newsdesk and night editor and the section takes shape from there. The number of pages at their disposal is now confirmed.
As for the place of social media in the day, it is well covered and some reporters tweet. Will you find either David or Ian on Twitter? "You must be joking".