From a 22nd floor office in the heart of Manchester city centre, Steve Brauner, editor of new weekly business newspaper Crain’s Manchester Business, will be able to see almost his entire circulation area.
And he will be hoping that most of the 60,000 Manchester-based businesses he can see below will take up a subscription to the American-owned paper, which claims to be the first of its kind in Europe.
Crain’s Manchester Business launches its first edition on 17 December, priced £2, and goes weekly from 7 January. It is Crain Communications’ first weekly paper outside of the US – it has 29 papers in the States, with editions in New York, Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago.
As Crain’s Manchester Business publisher and long-term Crain executive Arthur Porter puts it: ‘Every city with a skyline in the United States has its own local business paper. Manchester’s business community can and does throw a genuine challenge to London and the rest of Europe.”
Crain could have chosen anywhere in Europe, and Porter says the company looked at at least six cities before deciding to go to the North West of England. So why Manchester?
Sitting in the paper’s temporary home in an office on the edge of the sprawling city centre, Manchester-born Brauner says there is no better time or place.
‘We could have gone anywhere in Europe – a lot of it’s to do with Arthur’s connection to Manchester. He came here on a trade mission [for Crain] a few years ago and was struck by the fact that the business community had changed an awful lot in the time he’d been away and the area itself had changed a lot.
‘The business opportunities here are very good. Crain had a look and thought it made sense to produce something here.”
Brauner has already produced a 24-page prototype issue to show 20,000 potential customers and advertisers, through controlled circulation, what the end product will look like.
Every editorial post, apart from deputy editor, has been filled, and Brauner’s team of nine journalists are in place.
With its £2 price tag, the paper is not targeted at the man in the street, but people who are unsatisfied with the business news from the Manchester Evening News and, Brauner hopes, can make money from what they learn from reading his title.
‘Our readers are going to be involved in business in one way or another – whether it’s a small business up to something very large,. They might be employed in a large company or own their own business,’he says.
‘We are trying to deliver something people can make money out of. It’s the sheer amount of detail that counts for us. We’re approaching it as something that you could use, that could make your business better.”
Brauner has edited the North West Business Insider, been business and assistant editor of the Liverpool Daily Post and was, until this year, the editor of the North West Evening Mail in Barrow.
He says Crain’s real strength will be its strict focus on Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs – not the North West in general – save for a small, affluent pocket of nearby Cheshire. He points out that the community his previous newspaper covered, Barrow-in-Furness, had just 1,000 businesses altogether.
‘We’re just going to do the 10 boroughs. If you focus on this area, you can focus on things in a way that has a level of relevance to people in leadership,’he says.
The paper’s editorial focus is entirely business. In contrast to some financial papers, there will be no sports page, no arts, no culture – just news, features, an op-ed page and something Brauner says will be particularly useful: lists.
A ‘For the Record’page towards the back of the A3 paper gives readers planning applications, purchases, contracts and tenders, company notices and more.
And the entire year of these facts will be compiled into an annual book, given out free to everyone who pays the £75 yearly subscription cost. The equivalent book is sold for $500 (£250) by Crain’s American titles.
Something else the American versions do well is making money from the internet: Brauner says that Crain’s Chicago takes in more than $5m a year from its website. The Crain’s Manchester Business website will be updated regularly every weekday and feature breaking news, although Brauner says his biggest stories will be left for the paper version.
The title has an openly pro-business attitude. In an opinion piece in the prototype, Brauner writes: ‘You’re busy, so I won’t waste your time. That pledge underpins everything we do.”
But how would he treat a story in which business bosses are behaving wrongly or are involved in corruption?
Brauner says:â€ˆ’We are pro-business. But the fact is that the real danger to business in general is some people who don’t do it very well or do it in a dubious way. It will be part of our service to the business community to highlight that malpractice as we can.”
‘And if we can do that, we will be saving our readers money.””