Washington Post to cut business section

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Washington Post will stop publishing a business section six days out of the week and move business news to the front section of the paper at a time when finance stories dominate world headlines.

The decision, which the Post’s editors explained in a memo obtained by Reuters, means that the paper will save money on newsprint when newspaper advertising revenue is plunging.

The cost-cutting would allow the paper to keep providing readers with what they say they want, according to the memo signed by Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli and other editors.

“We remain absolutely committed to the strongest, in-depth and authoritative coverage of business locally, economics and economic-policy nationally, and the hugely important intersection of government, politics and money,” the memo said.

“The A section gets more readers than the Business section, so we’ll have more readers for our business coverage. We aren’t changing the size of the staff,” Brauchli, former top editor of The Wall Street Journal, the preeminent U.S. business newspaper, told Reuters.

Post media reporter Howard Kurtz, writing on the paper’s website earlier on Friday, said Brauchli did not dispute the fact that the loss of a stand-alone section would mean less prominence for many business stories.

The decision to cut the section comes as the financial crisis puts an ever brighter spotlight on how well or poorly the federal government, traditionally The Washington Post’s strongest turf, regulated financial institutions before the financial crisis.

The Post will stop running full listings of daily stock-price movements on Tuesdays through Saturdays. Instead, it will offer a half-page package of statistics and graphics showing how major national and local stocks fared.

The paper will run an enhanced Sunday Business section that will include new financial tables and graphics along with more personal finance stories aimed at helping people and small businesses survive the downturn.

In the Style section, the Post will move some comics online. It also will end one of its crossword puzzles and its weekly chess and poker columns.

Many U.S. papers have cut their stock listings and business sections to save money as ad revenue falls and they buy out or lay off staff to reduce expenses.

The Post has cut other sections since Brauchli joined the paper last year, including the Sunday Source section and Book World. it also has combined its Sunday Arts and Styles sections.

Washington Post print advertising revenue fell 17 percent last year to $410.4 million, mostly because of declining classified ad revenue. Daily circulation at the paper fell 2.6 percent in 2008.

The Post has a strong line-up of business news reporters, and has written many large, investigative stories about companies involved in the ongoing financial crisis, including a three-part series on the downfall of insurer American International Group.

Berkshire Hathaway owns about a fifth of the company’s Class B shares, and Chairman Warren Buffett sits on the board.

Washington Post Co stock fell $10.61, or 2.99 percent, to close at $344.34.

Reporting by Robert MacMillan; editing by Richard Chang and Carol Bishopric