Lowe's Store Closings With 1,950 Job Losses Not Worthy of AP's Business Front Page

UPDATE, 4 p.m.: NB gets results? The Lowe's story is currently #10 on the AP's Business home page (saved here).

It's a good thing I heard this on the radio at about 11:00 a.m., because I might otherwise have missed it. With yours truly's opinion along for the ride, I'll let readers judge whether the news of the Lowe's home improvement chain announcing that it will close 20 stores and cut its new store opening plans by one-half to two-thirds deserved to be in the top ten business stories at the Associated Press as of 12:52 p.m.

Here are the ten which made the cut in order of appearance on the wire service's Business home page (saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; original link not made because of frequent changes):

AP Top Business News At 12:52 p.m. EDT:

  1. UK government considers ban on squatters
  2. Yahoo's 3Q earnings may shed light on CEO firing
  3. Making up: free apps for furious Blackberry users
  4. Cellphone cos. to warn as plan approaches limit
  5. Factory output rises on truck, airplane demand
  6. Stocks slide as Germany cools hope for debt deal
  7. Citigroup earnings rise 74 percent, to $3.8 bln
  8. Wells Fargo 3Q profit up 21 percent, revenue slips
  9. BP, Anadarko settle Gulf disaster claims
  10. Shares of American Airlines parent AMR fall again

It seems pretty obvious that Item 1 doesn't even belong in the Business section, and that either Item 3 or 4 is less important than the Lowe's announcement. From the AP's perspective, the suspicion here is that the Lowe's news didn't make the cut because it dilutes the positive impact of Item 5.

Now here's the AP's unbylined Lowe's story, with a time stamp of 10:22 a.m. when this post was prepared (the news originally broke at about 8:30 a.m.; bolds are mine throughout this post):

Lowe's to close 20 stores

Home-improvement retailer Lowe's Cos. says it will close 20 underperforming stores in 15 states and cut 1,950 jobs in a move that it says will allow it to focus on more profitable locations.

Ten locations were closed Sunday; the other 10 will close in a month.

Before the closures Lowe's operated 1,725 stores.

Lowe's, based in Mooresville, N.C., also says it will only open 10 to 15 stores in North America annually beginning in 2012. Previously the company expected to open 30 stores per year. It will open 25 stores this year.

The front-page placement issue is important and becoming moreso, as news consumers get more of their news from computers, tablets and smartphones. If the headline doesn't show up on the electronic device (and it probably won't if it's not on the Business front page), users won't know to look for it.

Beyond that, the AP "somehow" decided not to include this pull quote which the Wall Street Journal found obviously newsworthy (the Journal also included the "severely cutting" opening slowdown in its headline):

"Today we have a clearer view of the long-term economic recovery and decided to close these 20 stores," Lowe's spokeswoman Chris Ahearn said. "The stores have underperformed and we haven't seen progress necessary for them to reach profitability."

Translation: "We're not impressed with the prospects of meaningful long-term recovery." Gosh, how did the AP miss that? (/sarc)

The betting here is that the Lowe's story would have been gotten to and stayed on AP's Business front page if it had occurred during the years 2001-2008, and that the pull quote just cited would not have ended up on the cutting-room floor.

And excuse me for doubting that most Americans following the news really, really want to know about those English squatters.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

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