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Crain’s Manchester Business closes

American adventurer’s loss is a major blow to principle of editorial independence

Published on June 22nd 2010.

Crain’s Manchester Business closes

Crain's Manchester Business has closed with immediate effect. Staff were called into their Manchester office this morning ‘to discuss (the impact) of the global economic crisis’.

In carving out a niche they took a much more purist editorial line, they broke away from the collegiate approach of the Manchester and North West business press.

Instead they were told the game was up and they were redundant. On the longest day, yesterday, the last edition of Crain’s was printed.

A statement on the Crain’s website said: “While we have been pleased with the support received from Crain's Manchester Business readers from the beginning of the project, ultimately the limited support from key advertising sectors has made the project unsustainable.”

This is sad and not only because we used to nick loads of stories off them, but because the Crain's team did proper journalism involving old fashioned legwork and editorial independence. They got a sniff of a story and chased it down.

At Confidential we became friends with many of the Crain’s people, particularly with writers such as Simon Binns and James Chapelard.

Andy Spinoza, managing director of SKV communications and long-term media commentator in Manchester, summed up the reasons behind the demise.

“It would have been interesting if they’d taken a less uncompromising editorial attitude,” he said. “In carving out a niche they took a much more purist editorial line, they broke away from the collegiate approach of the Manchester and North West business press. They didn’t fit into the ecology of the business media in a city where you usually spend time building relationships to get stories and advertising.”

Asked when the problems started for Crain’s, Spinoza is clear about the answer.

“Right from the start,” he says. “By having a Monday print day they went out – at that time – a day ahead of the main MEN Tuesday business news. The MEN boys then said to the business community, ‘If we see a story in Crain’s we won’t cover it here’. To compete this meant Crain’s ran stories that others wouldn’t run because they couldn’t wait another six days to run a story that had already appeared in the MEN: a story that would be old news.”

“At the same time they wouldn’t compromise on their advertising rates – until very recently,” concludes Spinoza. “So you had stories upsetting potential clients, coupled with high ad rates. Still it’s a tragedy for fans of real journalism. Crain’s was a real addition to the media landscape and they gave it a good go.”

It's a tragedy and a shock.

It also makes you wonder about the nature of editorial independence in the new electronic media world. Will ad revenues and circulation ever be big enough to give editors and publishers, particularly in the regions, the muscle and the freedom to chase down a story in the way Crain’s did? Can advertisers now, more than ever, influence - often in an unspoken way - editorial policy? In the Manchester media the loss of Crain’s is a blow to the principle of editorial independence.

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17 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Leigh ScottJune 22nd 2010.

Firstly I feel sorry for the staff that's no way to behave and the journalists there were good quality people.Secondly it's a real shame it was an extremely useful document; finally I want my fkn subscription back!

AnonymousJune 22nd 2010.

A real shame. Crains was a fantastic paper and was head and shoulders above other local business publications. The longer it was around the more they came up with the breaking news stories. It was fantastic guide to what was moving and happening in the city and was very professional, researched and written. It actually sits well with Manchester Confidential as a news source about the city and if you never read it, you missed out. I feel for the staff.

Randolph HearstJune 24th 2010.

The MEN can only will benefit if they take on the newly redundant staff.

Andrew RevansJune 24th 2010.

I'm very upset about this, but not altogether surprised. Any sort of "local" journalism which isn't just PR puff seems to be doomed.

AnonymousJune 24th 2010.

Is there an angle for ManCon here? Perhaps start a business section?

Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 24th 2010.

Revaulx you cheeky man we don't just do PR puff.

Leigh ScottJune 24th 2010.

Great idea,

Get Simon Binns on the case!

Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 24th 2010.

Actually I am looking for a top class journalist to do news-breaking features for us: broaden our offer into the news gathering business.

DescartesJune 24th 2010.

Can I apply? Here's a sample report:

This just in: Manchester Confidential seek breaking news features writer. [end]

Leigh ScottJune 24th 2010.

Good; Simon should apply then.I am sure he was out with Gordo last night?

Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 24th 2010.

Descartes, the job is yours.

Andrew RevansJune 24th 2010.

Sorry Jonathan: I wasn't aiming at ManCon (aside from Zaika...)

D KesslerJune 28th 2010.

Would be nice to see ManCon cover for the loss of this brilliant local paper. That's what a local paper should be, not this asbo-news nonsense we read everywhere else...

AnonymousJune 28th 2010.

Halliwells, Hill Dickinson, Itheca supposed million pound fitout (ha!), I would read and laugh about it!

Ali McGowanJuly 3rd 2010.

Well, another reason to hate the MEN: 'The paper I wouldn't even wipe my arse on.' I used to enjoy reading Crain's Mcr website and used to do so several times a week. I didn't however pay to subscribe cos I'm not that kind of chap. And I'd only read the MEN if they paid ME.

user26539July 21st 2010.

The demise of Crains is a shame for Manchester and a testament to the parlous state of local press across the UK. Sadly it only further illustrates the fact true investigative journalism - rather than the lazy habit of simply regurgitating press releases - does not square with profits, and that when revenues are squeezed it will inevitably suffer. Local media has an extremely important role to play in a democracy and so the winding up of Crains has implications for holding local political (and business) leaders to account. Whilst our publication holds a radically different editorial line to that of Crains, we had a lot of respect and admiration for the publication and its journalists. Hopefully something will rise up to fill its place - although I personally am not counting on the MEN.

Michael, Manchester MULE editorial collective member (in a personal capacity) http://www.manchestermule.com

Jonathan Schofield - editorJuly 21st 2010.

Michael well done for putting an ad out on our site. But hey you didn't mention us. We've recruited Simon Binns of Crains to give us a harder news edge and we have several good stories lined up. We are also commercial and make money through ads. Normally we charge for them - which keeps around twenty people in a job, so could you please put an ad on Mule. By the way I pursue a rigorously independent editorial viewpoint.

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