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Financial Press Readership Is Up - But For How Long?

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Spike in interest, attention coincides with market crashes. What a surprise.

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Newspaper editors used to growl, "If it bleeds, it leads."

That meant that any horror tale -- murder, car crash or bridge collapse -- landed on the front page, with a picture, because it sold papers.

The recent stock market plunge shot a lot of red arrows onto traders' screens, and many portfolios hemorrhaged value. Like the general press's preoccupation with train wrecks, the financial press has benefited from the financial pile-up at the corner of Wall and Main Streets.

The basic question: Will the surge in online readers, print circulation and cable TV viewers last?

The short answer: Yes -- and this isn't a hedge -- but only in part.

Here's betting many readers just want to know how badly they've been clipped by the current carnage. When it's clear that individual investors will survive, even if somewhat poorer, many new devotees will drift back to more casual reading, and will again put their investments on automatic pilot. They'll be fine - until next time.

But readers who want to imitate the smart money will become more actively engaged in managing their investments. Part of that engagement will be reflected in the size of the financial press's readership. Those readers may take a hit in the next market downturn, but they won't be pounded like those who don't regularly track the economy and their investments.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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