Monthly Archives: February 2006
There are similarities between horse racing and business coverage, says T.D. Thornton, editor of bloodhorse.com, an Web site that covers the horse racing industry.
Thornton notes how the Boston Globe and the Washington Post recently announced that they were cutting horse racing agate from their sports sections. Thornton notes the difference between this and cutting stock listings: “Consider the trend of major newspapers dropping entire pages of stock tables. The thinning of the business section elicits similar protest, but the finance industry differs noticeably from racing in its collective response: New technologies are continually being hatched to make it super-simple (and free) to obtain comprehensive market data that is superior to columns of tiny type whose quotes are destined to be outdated long before the paper thunks against one’s front door.”
Read the rest of his column here.
Kentucky newspapers like the Lousville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader do a pretty good job of covering the thoroughbred industry from the business section.
SABEW’s Fund for the Future is a new fundraising drive that seeks to provide this organization with the financial muscle required to create more innovative training opportunities at a cost that will fit into shrinking newsroom budgets.
SABEW already helps our 3,500 members in numerous ways: from industry news and professional tips contained in our newsletter, The Business Journalist, and on our Web site — to the hands-on teaching experiences and networking at our conferences and workshops.
Fund for the Future will help SABEW strengthen the quality of business journalism. To meet new challenges, SABEW must explore new training methods Â from online or telephone seminars to becoming a Web-based aggregator of pioneering business journalism reporting and editing tools.
Such efforts are complicated and expensive.
So SABEW needs your help. Please consider a donation to our Fund for the Future.
HOW TO DONATE
You can donate by sending a check to: SABEW c/o Missouri School of Journalism, 134 Neff Annex, Columbia, MO 65211-1200. Please note the check is for Fund for the Future.
You can donate by credit card by calling SABEW’s office at 573-882-7862.
You may donate in honor or memory of a friend, family member or colleague. SABEW intends to publish a list of donors, and we’d be happy to acknowledge such gifts.
SABEW is an IRS approved 501c3 not-for-profit organization. Your donation may be tax deductible. Please check with your tax advisor.
Your employer may match charitable donations to organizations like SABEW. Check to see if the company offers such a benefit.
Louis Victor is wondering about the effects on business journalists in response to the reporters who were subpoenaed by the SEC because he says they incorporate their opinions into what they write or state about companies.
Victor writes: “If this weighs down the stock then who is to blame then, Overtstock.com or the financial reporters that found issues with their earnings?
“Jim Cramer, Herb Greenberg and Carol S. Remond should come out fine from this but what does this mean for financial reporting, are financial journalist going to be restricted from giving their opinions or insights that are an asset to the investment community?
“Let’s hope not because the insight that is given from journalist have exposed some of the biggest scandals in the financial industry history, like Enron, Worldcom and Health South.
“So we will see how this develops in the coming weeks.”
Read Victor’s post on the NAMCE wire here.
Mad Money host Jim Cramer disclosed Monday night that he received a subpoena from the SEC in relation to its investigation into a hedge fund. Online financial news site TheStreet.com, which Cramer helped found in the 1990s, also received a subpoena, according to an article on the Web site.
The article noted: “Cramer, meanwhile, disclosed the subpoena on his “Mad Money” television show on CNBC Monday night. Through its general counsel, Jordan Goldstein, TheStreet.com disclosed that it, too, received an SEC subpoena. A spokesman for CNBC said the network did not receive a subpoena.
“Goldstein said TheStreet.com won’t comply with parts of the subpoena that demand communications between journalists and sources.”
Dow Jones, whose two journalists received a reply last week, has already said that it would not comply with the subpoenas. The SEC is also backing down from the subpoenas.
The Federal Diary column, which has run in the Metro section for decades and which began in 1932, is moving to the Washington Post’s business section.
Columnist Stephen Barr explains: “After nearly six years anchoring Page 2 of Metro news, the column will take up residence on Page 4 of the Business section, where it will appear Monday through Friday. The move is part of an effort by Post editors to find space for new features and make it easier for readers to find their way through the newspaper. The Diary is, first and foremost, a workplace column and will make a good fit in Business, which also covers the world of work.
“Although the Diary is moving, its focus and content won’t change. Federal employees and retirees have been among The Post’s most loyal readers through the decades, providing constant support and feedback for the column.”
The Washington Post’s business section does a better job than any other newspaper I’ve seen in understanding the connection between regulatory agencies and business and industry. I think this move will tie in well to its business government coverage.
Read Barr’s column here.
The New York Times’ Joe Nocera wrote a column this weekend about the efforts of Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne to discredit financial journalists who write negatively about his company or who question the “naked short-selling conspirary” that he has espoused for the past year. Nocera’s column is part of Times Select, so I haven’t posted about it until now since it is appearing in other newspapers and can be read for free.
Some background: Earlier this year, Byrne responded to interview questions from BusinessWeek’s Timothy Mullaney and the New York Post’s Roddy Boyd by posting his answers on an Internet site. Byrne took this tactic to circumvent what he thought were going to be negative storis written by journalists being fed a story line by short sellers. In fact, Byrne has sued the alleged short-selling firm.
Then comes this week, and one of the business journalists — the Marketwatch’s Herb Greenberg — is subpoenaed by the SEC, along with Dow Jones reporter Carol Remond, looking into Byrne’s allegations against the short sellers. According to Nocera’s column, Byrne has knowledge of the subpoenas and sends some strange — and menacing — e-mails to Greenberg. One of them read: “”As I take a sip, ‘I find myself curious: do you guys know? Are you sitting somewhere, blithely oblivious, still chuckling about Whacky Patty, and all that? Or do you understand now that this is going to end badly for you?”
Nocera’s analysis: “This is what Bryne does: along with O’Brien, he bullies and taunts and goads the small handful of reporters who dare to write about Overstock, making it clear that there will be a price to be paid for tackling the company or its chief executive. And as a result, financial reporters have become very chary of taking him on.”
I am sorry to say that I missed Byrne’s appearance earlier today on CNBC’s Kudlow & Co. But apparently he called Greenberg, one of the most respected business journalists in the field, a “crooked reporter.” That’s at least what former BusinessWeek reporter Gary Weiss, an acquaintance of Greenberg’s is stating on his blog.
Greenberg replied on Jim Cramer’s Mad Money show, saying that Byrne had libeled and slandered him. “I’m proud of what I do,” said Greenberg. “The SEC and I, we’re kind of doing the same thing. What I do for a living is help people avoid getting taken advantage of.” At the end of the segment, Cramer said to him: “Listen buddy, you’re not corrupt.”
I don’t expect this to be the last we’ve heard of this.
When Byrne posted his interviews on the Internet, I took it as a case of the changing relationship between business journalists and sources with the Web coming into play. But to go onto cable television and call a journalist “crooked” smacks of vindictiveness and a thin skin. I can see now why a lot of people think that Byrne is strange.
The Financial Times had a recent article examining CNBC’s attempt to run a business news show in 100 countries. It ran in the Los Angeles Times this morning.
The Times wrote: “The show, called ‘Global Players With Sabine Christiansen,’ is one of several new formats CNBC is testing to shake off its dry image as a real-time stock-exchange channel. The network, part of the NBC-Universal empire controlled by General Electric Co., recently hired the former Walt Disney Co. chief executive to anchor ‘Conversations With Michael Eisner,’ which will start airing in two months.
“To call Christiansen â€” a flight attendant-turned-journalist who anchored the nation’s top news program for a decade up to 1997 â€” a national icon is an understatement. ‘Sabine Christiansen,’ her weekly one-hour program on the ARD public channel, has topped audience ratings in talk-show-mad Germany for seven years and spawned countless imitations.
“Each week, 4 million to 8 million viewers tune in to watch politicians, businessmen and pundits cross swords on topics as diverse as worries about bird flu and the intricacies of the latest welfare state reform.
“Most of the German political class has sat under the trademark blue cupola of her Berlin studio. So have Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice.
“Such is the institutional status of Christiansen that Wolfgang Thierse, then-president of the German parliament, once grumpily complained that ‘there is more politics being done under the blue cupola these days than in the Bundestag.’
“The journalist and businesswoman, whose marital travails regularly make the front page of the tabloid Bild Zeitung, has attracted her share of criticism, mainly for her cushy, nonconfrontational style.”
Read the entire piece here.
Yvette Kantrow, the executive editor of TheDeal.com and one of the sharpest analyzers of business media coverage, took Columbia Journalism Review to task in her weekly column. Seems the self-appointed media watchdog was too critical of Barron’s recent critical piece on Google for Kantrow’s taste.
Kantrow writes: “If stories about the market, or a particular stock, must be “ironclad” and “unambiguous,” as CJR deems they must, any journalist now writing about stocks (or bonds or soybean futures or anything else bought and sold on an open exchange) should just unplug their computers, throw away their Rolodexes and retreat to that cute little bookstore in Vermont right now.
“For nothing about a market is certain; just because a stock trades at one price today doesn’t mean it will trade at that price a year from now, a month from now, even a day from now. There is no such thing as an ‘ironclad’ story when writing about the market, unless of course, you’re simply reporting what’s already happened. Once you get into predicting how a stock (or a company, for that matter) will perform tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that, uncertainty is inescapable.
“That’s not to say, of course, that financial reporters should feel free to carelessly produce uninformed stories fueled by reckless speculation. But that’s hardly what [Barron's writer Jacqueline] Doherty did. Right off the bat â€” the second paragraph, to be exact â€” she acknowledges that ‘there are those who disagree’ with her bearish thesis and expect Google to go as high as $2,000 a share. She then engages in what she admits is a ‘less than scientific’ exercise in which she shaves 20% off of an ‘uber-bull’s’ 2006 revenue estimates for Google; trims his projected expenses; makes a few other assumptions about compensation and cash and concludes that Google would be worth $188 a share, not its recent $360.”
Later, Kantrow added, “Does CJR really want financial reporting that does nothing but repeat or reinforce the conventional wisdom? Barron’s, interestingly enough, caught similar flak in March 2000 when it ran its infamous â€” or should we upgrade it to famous? â€” burn-rate story that claimed that scores of new-economy darlings were quickly heading for bankruptcy. Other journalists, Web companies and investors severely chastised the magazine for causing Internet stocks to fall with an analysis they viewed as deeply flawed. But when the tech-heavy Nasdaq crashed one month later, the piece was hailed as visionary for being one of the first to take sky-high Internet valuations to task.”
Read Kantrow’s entire column on the issue here.
Bill Emmott, right, who announced earlier this month that he was stepping down as editor of The Economist magazine, spoke with Newsweek magazine about a range of topics in this week’s issue.
The Q&A format included this interesting item:
The Economist’s circulation has increased by more than 40 percent in North America over the last five years. How did you manage that with all the competition from Web news outlets?
Globalization has helped us a lot. Globalization expressed as fear and greed: fear of terrorism and greed in terms of new opportunities. I think this has increased the market for the kind of international, political and economic analysis that we offer. And we were starting at a low base [of circulation]. We’re now at more than 550,000 in the U.S., but we are still a niche magazine relative to the mass market. The other thing is that if you can find a crisp, accessible way to provide analysis of the worldâ€”whether it’s in print or onlineâ€”then people are going to want you in such an information-overload world.
Read the entire interview here.
In an interview with the Observer, a British newspaper, Emmott described the magazine’s success in this way: “‘We try to give you two or three things in every issue that you hadn’t thought of,’ says Emmott. The aim is to produce a weekly agenda that marks readers’ cards, that gives information, attitude, policies and a coherent world view. The aim to tell you what you think you ought to know – but didn’t, and couldn’t find anyone else to break the news (while Time was trying to take on television for mass market glory).”
SEC Chairman Christopher Cox issued the following statement in response to media reports over the weekend that the agency had “ordered columnists at two Dow Jones publications to provide information about conversations that they had with stock traders and analysts”:
“The issuance of a subpoena to a journalist which seeks to compel production of his or her notes and records of conversations with sources is highly unusual. Until the appearance of media reports this weekend, neither the Chairman of the SEC, the General Counsel, the Office of Public Affairs, nor any Commissioner was apprised of or consulted in connection with a decision to take such an extraordinary step. The sensitive issues that such a subpoena raises are of sufficient importance that they should, and will be, considered and decided by the Commission before this matter proceeds further.”
In other words, the career SEC employees did something that made the politicians running the agency look bad, and now they’re getting their knuckles rapped by the school marm.
Former BusinessWeek reporter Gary Weiss said pretty much the same thing on his blog: “I have to admit, I am having a bit of trouble understanding how nobody in authority, not even the spokesman’s office, knew what was going on until the weekend when the SEC’s top spokesman was saying things like that on Friday.”