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Where were you when . . . ? The post looking at the question posed by Paul Berton, the editor-in-chief of The London Free Press, has been moved to my new blog. Please click on the link.

Thank you,
Cheers,
Rockinon

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An open letter to Paul Berton, editor-in-chief, The London Free Press:

The newspaper stock and mutual fund tables are disappearing from the business pages of our local dailies. This is not a big loss for most of us as we have switched to the Internet for this information.

Carrying those tables is expensive and inefficient. Most of us are interested in one or two dozen entries at most. But some readers are missing those pages and are upset.

Paul Berton, editor-in-chief of  The London Free Press, addressed this recently when he wrote, ” . . . it’s a hard pill to swallow for those who a) like tradition, b) live in a rural area and have only dial-up service, or c) don’t have a computer or the Internet at all.”

Earlier Berton pointed out, when it comes to these tables, “you can get them more efficiently at money.canoe (sic).”

Money.canoe.ca brings up a screen with a stock and mutual fund search box at the top of the page. This is O.K. for searching one or two stocks or funds but it is painfully inefficient for checking one’s portfolio.

This is where Berton and newspapers in general are dropping the ball. The Canoe site is quite good and a lot of work has been invested in making it perform some neat tricks for the Internet-savvy investor interested in keeping careful tabs on his portfolio.

Sell the site, Paul. Coax tradition-bound readers to migrate to Canoe and to The London Free Press on-line. Sow the seeds of future growth. Make these readers feel you have their best interests at heart, and not just your bottom line. Don’t let it be, “. . . tough on them . . .”

Hold their hand. Give them a step by step guide on how to track their stocks and mutual funds, using the tools so generously supplied. Tell them, that it’s free and it’s incredible.

And, if the site is slow for those without a high-speed Internet connection, work with Canoe and Quebecor to supply a dial-up friendly site as well. Don’t give your readers an incentive to go googling in search of another portfolio tracking package.

Negative stuff like the comment from P.J. Harston, business editor of the London Free Press, has no place here. P.J. wrote, “Change is sometimes a bitter pill to swallow and I certainly lament anytime that pill comes from us. But change, like death and taxes, is inevitable — perhaps more so now than ever before . . . The switch will be difficult for some and then it will get easier for everyone.”

For most the change is not bitter. And if clear instructions were being provided the switch would not be difficult for anyone. Make it easy for all, right from the start.

You’ve got a good product. Sell it.

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If you read this in the past, you may notice today that I have corrected some (maybe even all, hope springs eternal) of the spelling errors. Oh, how I miss a human editor. I should go back and check more of my posts. And then there’s punctuation to tackle…

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