Doha ... Only Homer Simpson Can Make it Appealing
Managing Editor, CNBC.com
I've found another one of those headline words guaranteed to scare readers away: Doha.
Knowledgeable business news readers know this refers to the world trade talks underway since 2001. Others may think it is something to do with Homer Simpson. Unfortunately for us business editor types, the latter would probably get more reader action.
Sure the world trade talks, which just crumpled for the umpteenth time, are very, very important. Global trade is one of those macro-economic things that touches everyone in one way or another. A farmer or factory worker suddenly faces overseas competition that puts them out of a job. Consumers suddenly find lower prices and more choices. Trade rattles all the way down the food chain and can be good or bad, depending on your point of view.
Something business news readers should stay on top of, no?
But readers hate it. At least that's what my traffic meters tell me. Why? Well, it's theoretical and pretty far from the here and now. Not like stories of people trying to get money out of failing banks or gas prices suddenly swinging by a dollar. Also, the trade discussions are handled by full-blown, bureaucratic diplomats. Their messages to one another may be full of nuanced meaning ... but their diplo-speak rarely makes riveting news copy.
And like I said, these talks have been off, on, off, on .... gets a little boring after a while. Just as bad as Libor.
Now some types of trade stories get some traction, mind you. A boycott, tainted imports, even the occasional wildly unexpected trade gap figure can all pull some readers. But Doha? Nah ... even though a lot of major newspapers have it plastered on their front page today.