Well, Balloon Boy was a little overblown yesterday, huh?
Nevertheless, remarkable events like that (well, at the time it was remarkable) bring up a recurring dilemma in business news — should you pay attention to a breaking general news event or not?
Some events are no-brainers because they are so traumatic and far-reaching that they will have reverberations throughout every aspect of the world, business and otherwise. 9/11, for
But others are a little more debatable.
The miraculous Hudson landing last January; an attention-getting heroic event, no doubt, but pretty tangential to business news.
Michael Jackson's death.
The winner of the U.S. Open.
Of course, you could find ways to justify things. Jackson's estate is major money (well, sort of). Golf is a mainstay of the CNBC demographic. Airlines are a critical business industry. Given the "Wife Swap" connection and the dubious publicity surrounding the event, we could probably get a money angle on Balloon Boy if we tried hard enough.
Still, you have to make the coverage call as the event is breaking. And your platform affects the choice. It's hard to pass up good television. On the other hand, does that mean giving up covering other important things? And will the breaking news coverage turn out to be worthwhile? In terms of actual "what's important" journalism newspapers, so often labeled as obsolete, have the advantage. Time allows you to bring perspective.
Lucky for Web sites like ours, we can present multiple news-offerings. Covering the balloon's flight yesterday, which we did, didn't mean sacrificing our market coverage or ignoring the business news of the day. We could do it all and let readers decide what they wanted to pay attention to.
So did surfers come to CNBC.com for their Balloon Boy coverage? Nah ... our traffic took a significant dip during that time, in fact.
But at the time it was remarkable. So we had it.