Monthly Archives: March 2006
In the April 10 issue of BusinessWeek, which just came out, there is an article titled “The Secret Lives of Short-Sellers” that goes into detail about how hedge funds and research firms that specialize in finding companies whose stocks are going to fall are increasingly doing battle with the companies, namely Overstock.com and Biovail.
Most of you in the business journalism world are familiar with this fight because it involves business journalists who use these hedge funds and research firms as sources. Some of these journalists were subpoenaed last month by the Securities and Exchange Commission, while subpoenas sent to the firms request details of their communication with business journalists.
What I find shocking is that the BusinessWeek article gives no mention of the role that the business journalism community has been playing in this issue of using hedge funds and research firms as sources of information. It’s especially shocking considering this all blew up earlier this year when BusinessWeek writer Timothy Mullaney sent a list of questions to Overstock.com President Patrick Byrne, who responded by answering the questions and posting the interview on the Internet so that everyone could read it.
The BusinessWeek article makes a brief mention to the media, noting a private investiagtor has been hired to “help prove that a group of short-selling hedge funds are fraudulently collaborating with analysts and journalists to push down stocks.” Later, there is this mention: “Public relations campaigns related to the suits have drawn intense media interest, with CBS’s 60 Minutes featuring a sympathetic segment on Biovail. The Securities & Exchange Commission, meanwhile, is investigating allegations about abusive short-selling concerning the two companies, as well as potential underlying problems at both.”
Yet, there is no mention of the bigger issue here that involves business journalism.
If business journalists don’t protect their own turf, then no one will. I realize the article may have wanted to focus on the battle of the shorts vs. the companies, but I don’t see how that can be done without mentioning that the shorts are sources for journalists and that the SEC is trying to interfere with that relationship.
Go here to find the article. The article is for subscribers only.
Motley Fool contributing writer Warren Gump, who owns shares in Dow Jones, likes the company because of its positioning in the field of business journalism.
Gump writes, “Dow Jones is an interesting case in that its operations seem to be on a different cycle from most other papers. The company’s print publications actually had an operating loss last year because of the tremendous decline in technology and business advertising since the stock market bubble burst in 2000. With continued economic strength, the company could see a cyclical upturn in demand in the next few years (the company’s recent ad lineage volume indicates that a bottom may have been hit).
“The company has also invested substantial resources to expand the coverage into ‘The Business of Life,’ adding sections on personal finance and launching a Saturday edition. Targeting affluent baby boomers, these sections should attract more general consumer advertising to the Journal’s online and print properties, opening up substantial new revenue opportunities. Meanwhile, the company’s institutional and online businesses are posting impressive results.
“On the other hand, local newspaper companies don’t interest me right now despite their seemingly attractive valuations. I simply can’t envision these companies’ strategic moves offsetting the likely continued declines in circulation and advertising revenues. Unless that happens, my investment dollars will stay on the sidelines.”
Read his comments here.
Keith Kelly of the New York Post is reporting that Success magazine is returning to newsstands after a five-year period in which it was not published.
Kelly writes, “A new business lifestyle magazine has beaten CondÃ© Nast to the punch. Success, a magazine with a 115-year history, is coming back after a five-year hiatus.
“A new group of investors has hired veteran editor Gay Bryant – who once won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence with Mirabella – to resuscitate the magazine with a May issue.
“She is joining the publication’s director, Joseph Guerriero, who had most recently been the vice president of integrated marketing and brand development at Billboard Information Group in a new company called the Quantum Media Venture Fund. ‘Our approach is to give business people the means to achieve a successful life – both in work and life,’ said Bryant.
“Guerriero said the new company is relying on the business seminar company Get Motivated, Inc. to supply about 650,000 subscribers.”
Read Kelly’s column here.
The Conde Nast reference is to the fact that the magazine company is planning to roll out its own business magazine later this year.
According to a press release put out this morning by NBC, “The Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo” is the No. 1 business news show on television, according to statistics from Nielsen.
The press release states that the show is “out ranking over 35 programs on CNN and Fox, among others. According to Nielsen Media Research data, “The Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo” ranks #1 of all financial news programs in households, total viewers and all nine key demos (women/men/adults 18-34/18-49/25-54.)”
Later, the release notes, “‘The Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo’ is the only financial news program to attract more than 1 million viewers each week. Further, the program reaches the youngest viewership among competitors (median age is 46.6) and has among the highest median income of viewers. Additionally, the broadcast has increased its household viewership nationally by 7% from February 2005 to February 2006 (sweep to sweep.)”
Read the full release here.
News Hounds, a blog that critiques news coverage on the Fox network, thinks that “Your World with Neil Cavuto” should spend more time writing and covering good economic news.
A posting there notes, “Asman hosted a roundtable discussion titled, ‘The Liberal Media: Out to Sabotage the Economy?’ Given that this had to be the 276th segment about the ‘liberal media’ aired on Your World in the past few years, you probably know exactly what it was about: that the economy’s firing like a rocket but the ‘liberal media’ doesn’t report it because it’s trying to sabotage George Bush in particular, and Republicans in general.
“Memo to Roger Ailes: Fox pretends to devote a whole hour each day to business news via Your World. If there’s so much good economic news out there, why then do you routinely devote only 90 seconds per show, per day to it? You have a platform. Quit whining and go for it! Talk about all that great economic news for a whole hour, 24/7/365. I dare you!”
Read the post here.
The Financial Post Business magazine in Canada posted nice gains in readership, according to an article in the National Post.
The Post reports, “Total readership for the award-winning monthly among adults over 18 years of age increased 4% over last year, to 1.25 million, according to the PMB study, which is used by media buyers to guide advertising spending.
“Over the same period readership at Financial Post Business’s main rival, the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine, sank 2% and third-ranked Canadian Business magazine posted a 2% gain.”
Later, the article reported, “Financial Post Business, which is published and distributed by the National Post, made its greatest gains in households with incomes of more than $100,000. There it saw readership grow 24% compared with 12% growth for Report on Business and 16% for Canadian Business.
“It also posted the greatest gains in the key business managers, owners and professionals category, with a readership increase of 17%. That compares with gains of 12% for Canadian Business and 9% for Report on Business.”
Read the article here.
More coverage from Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino’s remarks Wednesday at an investor conference in New York. The European and Asian editions of the Wall Street Journal will be “retooled” because of reader complaints after their conversion to tabloid format, according to a Reuters report.
Reuters wrote, “Zannino, speaking at the Bank of America Media Telecommunications and Entertainment conference, said some readers feel ‘there is less of a paper than before’ Dow Jones changed from a broad-sheet to the more compact tabloid format. The change, made late last year, was designed to cut costs at the struggling Asian and European editions.
“He said readers would likely be more satisfied as they grow accustomed to the tabloid size and realized the editions are offering as much content as they did previously.
“Nonetheless, he said, changes were in store, but declined to specify what they would be.
“‘Readers’ reaction overall is positive — not as positive as some other things we’ve done, so we are going to correct a little there. Retool it a bit,’ he said.”
Read the rest of the story here.
An article in the New York Times this morning notes that world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is seeking two public relations professionals with at least 10 years of experience to handle the company’s glut of media requests.
Ostensibly, these new Wal-Mart employees will also be on the front line of the company’s public relations battle, which often is fought in the business sections across America. The company has been aggressive in its attitude toward what it perceives to be negative coverage.
The Times’ Michael Barbaro writes, “The two jobs reflect how much life has changed at Wal-Mart, which has come under withering criticism over its wages, health benefits and treatment of workers. The company barely had a public relations department in the early 1990′s, but now has a staff of dozens, including a public relations war room full of former political operatives who dispute the assertions of its opponents.”
Read the story here.
The Society of American Business Editors and Writers selected Carol Junge Loomis, a journalistic fixture at Fortune magazine who’s often regarded as the best business writer in the United States, as this year’s recipient of the group’s Distinguished Achievement Award.
Loomis, 76, has worked at Fortune for 52 years and has kicked corporate shins for most of those years. Last year, for example, her scathing cover story about Carly Fiorina’s tenure as Hewlett-Packard’s chief executive was followed by Fiorina’s ouster a few days later. In this February’s cover story, Loomis explains why she thinks General Motors is headed for bankruptcy court.
Her fans include her long-time friend and subject, legendary investor Warren Buffett. “She’s the best business writer in the world, bar none, she’s so good she’s lapped the field,” Buffett recently told journalist Allan Sloan.
Loomis is Buffett’s editor, too. Since 1977, she’s been editing his famous annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders.
Sloan asked Buffett what is Loomis is like as an editor. Buffett thought for a few seconds. “She’s unreasonable,” he said. “But she’s the best.” This despite the fact that the first time she mentioned him in print, she misspelled his name “Buffet.”
Loomis will get the SABEW award at a ceremony in Minneapolis on April 30 at SABEW’s annual conference. Her SABEW honor will be Loomis’ fourth lifetime career award. The others come from the Loeb Foundation (1993), the Women’s Economic Round Table (2000) and from Time Inc. (the first-ever Henry R. Luce Award, 2001).
Past recipients of SABEW’s Distinguished Achievement Award include: the late Hobart Rowan of the Washington Post; Myron Kandel of Cable News Network; the late Larry Birger of the Miami Herald; Chris Welles of BusinessWeek; Cheryl Hall of the Dallas Morning News; Marshall Loeb with CBSMarketWatch.com; John Cuniff of the Associated Press; Chet Currier of Bloomberg News; Ernest Holsendolph of Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Allan Sloan of Newsweek; Byron “Barney” Calame of The Wall Street Journal; Randy Smith of The Kansas City Star; James K. “Jimmy” Gentry of the University of Kansas; Linda O’Bryon of Nightly Business Report and Steve Shepard of BusinessWeek.
New Dow Jones CEO Richard Zannino said Wednesday at an investor conference that advertising for the company’s flagship Wall Street Journal newspaper has been up 13 percent in the first two months.
Dwight Ostricher of Dow Jones Newswire reports, “‘We took meaningful market share away from our primary print competitors in 2005 and so far in 2006 are doing the same,’ Zannino said Wednesday at the Bank of America media, telecommunications and entertainment conference here.
“The Journal has seen solid advertising gains in the technology and financial sectors as well as in general business to business, he said, while health-care and pharmaceutical advertising was soft.
“The company, which also publishes this newswire, said in January that ad lineage at the U.S. edition of the Journal should rise by a mid-single-digit percentage in the first quarter.”
Ostricher also later reported, “Zannino said the company would look for merger-and-acquisition opportunities in the enterprise media group, which includes Dow Jones Newswires, Dow Jones Indexes and Dow Jones Licensing Services.
“He added that consumer media, which includes the print and online version of the Journal and Barron’s, as well as the MarketWatch online financial news concern, will benefit from the Weekend Journal turning profitable and the end of losses for international Journal editions. Zannino added that the company will lose a ‘little bit’ of money in Europe and turn a profit in Asia in 2006.”
Read the wire story here.