Monthly Archives: April 2006
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal’s BossTalk featured a laudatory Q&A with Xerox Corp. CEO Anne Mulcahy, noting how she had turned around the company. Too bad that on the same day that the Q&A ran that the company reported bad first-quarter earnings that cut more than 5 percent off the company’s stock price, noted TheDeal.com Executive Editor Yvette Kantrow.
Kantrow writes, “But why did the Journal take the risk of running such a laudatory Q&A on the day the company was announcing quarterly results? Why not wait 24 hours to actually see those results and, better yet, address them in the piece? In the Q&A, Mulcahy spends a fair amount of time talking about the importance of taking care of customers during a corporate turnaround. But as Shannon S. Cross, an analyst with Cross Research/Soleil Investments, told The New York Times in its Xerox earnings piece, the company ‘made all the right decisions for making customers happy, but it really impacted their costs.’ It would have been nice in the Q&A to hear Mulcahy’s take on that.”
Later, Kantrow notes, “But maybe that’s not the function of the WSJ’s softball-lobbing Boss Talk. On Wednesday, the paper boasted a Q&A with Henry Paulson, CEO of Goldman Sachs Group and a big interview ‘get.’ That’s especially true these days, after Paulson’s remarks to Goldman bankers to be more ‘careful and thoughtful’ about their involvement in hostile takeovers touched off a slew of unflattering stories about the firm making unsolicited bids for its advisory clients, competing against them in auctions, and generally courting conflict. So the Q&A’s headline, ‘Goldman CEO Tackles Critics, Touchy Issues,’ as well as its illustration, which labeled Paulson ‘trader,’ ‘investor’ and ‘adviser,’ were all very provocative. It seemed Boss Talk was going to tackle the white-hot Goldman conflict issue head-on.
“Well, not exactly.”
Read more here.
Filmmaker Danny Schechter, a 1978 Nieman Fellow and the producer of the movie “In Debt we Trust,” came away from the film with the belief that journalism should do a better job of covering the credit business.
Schechter writes, “I am raising this issue, and suggesting ways that it can be reported, because I believe this is an essential story for us to tell.
â€¢ Report more regularly on these credit issues; billions of dollars are involved, not to mention millions of lives.
â€¢ Identify the key corporate institutions and contrast the compensation of their executives with the financial circumstances of their customers.
â€¢ Shine a spotlight on how special interests and lobbyists for financial institutions contribute to members of Congress and other politicians, across party lines, to ensure their desired policies and regulations.
Investigate political influence affected by campaign contributions. Some reporting about this took place during the bankruptcy debate, but there has been little follow-up.
â€¢ Examine the influence credit card companies have on media companies through their extensive advertising.
â€¢ Take a hard look at the predatory practices in poor neighborhoods â€“ and crimes committed against poor and working class people, who are least able to defend themselves. Legal service lawyers tell me that they are overwhelmed by the scale of mortgage scams involving homes whose value have been artificially inflated.
â€¢ Focus attention on what consumers can do to fight back. Robert Manning, author of â€œCredit Card Nation,â€? explains: â€œIf ten percent of American credit cardholders withheld their monthly payments, it would bring the financial services industry to a standstill. At a larger issue, what we have to do is to get people involved at the state level, get their state attorney generals involved, aggressively filing class action lawsuits and then putting pressure on key legislators to say, â€˜This is unacceptable that they’re not representing and balancing the issues of commerce with consumers. The balance is tilted dramatically against the average American.â€™â€?
Read more here.
The Harrisburg Patriot-News in Pennsylvania is considering cutting its stock listings from three pages a day to one, but editor Tom Barstow says the space will be used to provide more business news to its readers.
Barstow writes, “To me, it’s a hands-down decision. Why publish two pages of stocks that few people might need when we might be able to get in a lot more of the news that affects the business community in central Pennsylvania, such as the following:
More articles and news features about local businesses, trends and issues.
Awards people have won.
Promotions and new hires.
A more comprehensive calendar of business events.
“I have let you know what I think. Now I want to know what you think. A final decision hasn’t been made.
“Would you be better served with the current stock listings, or with space set aside for more business news from the community?”
Read the rest of the column here.
Missed this one on Tuesday, as I was traveling, but TheStreet.com reported good first quarter earnings, including a profit, after reporting a loss in the first quarter of 2005. The improvement was partially based on higher revenue from subscriptions.
The business news Web site said in its press release:
– Net income for the quarter was $2.6 million, a $3.4 million improvement over the same period last year and a $800,000 improvement from last quarter.
– Earnings per a share for the quarter were 10 cents, a 13 cents per share improvement over the same period last year and a 3 cents per share improvement from last quarter.
– Net revenue was $11.1 million in the first quarter, a 43 percent increase over the same period last year and a 12 percent increase from last quarter.
– Subscription revenue for the quarter totaled $7.6 million, a 41 percent increase over the same period last year and an increase of 17 percent, or $1.1 million, from last quarter’s $6.5 million. The number of paid subscribers to the Company’s premium services increased by approximately 13,100, or 15 percent, during the quarter.
– The Company’s podcasting of Jim Cramer’s Real Money radio show, which launched in the fourth quarter of 2005, is starting to pay dividends as seen by the growing numbers of subscribers. The podcast has consistently been ranked #1 or #2 in iTunes Top Business Downloads of the Day and it remains in the top 100 ‘subscribed’ to podcasts for all of iTunes. The Company makes money from these podcasts through the sale of advertisements.
Read more details here. I note that the proxy statement for 2005 is supposed to be out sometime next week.
Los Angeles Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State column has been canceled, and Hiltzik will serve a suspension and then be reassigned to another position at the paper, according to an Editor’s Note on Saturday, in the wake of a disclosure that he posted comments, some using a pseudonym, on other blogs.
An investigation found no ethical transgressions related to the column by Hiltzik, a Pulitze Prize winner.
The editor’s note stated, “The Times is discontinuing Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State column, which ran in the Business section, because the columnist violated the newspaper’s ethics guidelines. This follows the suspension last week of his blog on latimes.com, which also has been discontinued.
“Hiltzik has acknowledged using pseudonyms to post a single comment on his blog on latimes.com and multiple comments elsewhere on the Web that dealt with his column and other issues involving the newspaper.
“Hiltzik did not commit any ethical violations in his newspaper column, and an internal inquiry found no inaccurate reporting in his postings in his blog or on the Web. But employing pseudonyms constitutes deception and violates a central tenet of The Times’ ethics guidelines: Staff members must not misrepresent themselves and must not conceal their affiliation with The Times. This rule applies equally to the newspaper and the Web world.”
Read the rest of the editor’s note here.
Financial Times journalist James Harding has been named as the new business editor of The Times, replacing Patience Wheatcroft, who last week started as editor of the Sunday Telegraph, according to media reports out of London on Friday afternoon.
Harding previously worked closely with Times editor Robert Thomson, who himself came from the FT. Harding was Washington bureau chief for the FT from 2002 to 2005, media editor from 1999 to 2002 and opened the paperâ€™s Shanghai bureau in 1996.
Read Press Gazette coverage here.
The Times’ announcement can be found here.
Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck, a reporter with Dow Jones Newswires, won the ‘Online Journalist of the Year’ Award last night at a gala ceremony staged in London by the U.K.-based World Leadership Forum. The awards, which were first presented in 1999, are designed to honor the cream of global business and financial writers and broadcasters. This is the second year running that Dow Jones Newswires has won this particular award.
Brussels-based von Reppert-Bismarck won the ‘Online Journalist of the Year’ award for her series of stories on the E.U. titled ‘Trade Wars Create New Advocates/Enemiesâ€™. Her colleague, London-based Jackie Range, was also shortlisted in the Online Journalist category for her series of stories which looked at the worldwide boom in the copper trade and its immense impact on Zambia.
Other Dow Jones Newswires reporters to be shortlisted for other awards included London-based Andrea Hotter in the â€˜Best Scoopâ€™ award and Italy-based Sabrina Cohen, who together with Wall Street Journal Europe colleague Gabriel Kahn, was shortlisted in the â€˜Best Communicatorâ€™ award.
“These awards recognise the consistently high quality of our journalism at Dow Jones Newswires and the dogged determination with which our reporters and editors pursue stories throughout the region,” said Gabriella Stern, senior news editor for Dow Jones Newswires in Europe, in a news release. ‘Julianeâ€™s stories on the E.U. trade wars brought major political issues to life with her unique angles and insights.”
Read the release here.
Jamie Smith Hopkins, who writes about real estate for the Baltimore Sun, was the big winner Friday at the National Association of Real Estate Editors’ 56th Annual Journalism Awards luncheon, which was held in Charlotte.
Hopkins was the winner of the Robert F. Brennan Award for Best Overall Entry by an Individual and the winner of the James D. Carper Award for Best Entry by a Young Journalist. She also won in the Best Serial Report category.
The judges wrote, “Early in her reporting career, Hopkins exhibits mastery of both basic and advanced reporting techniques. It can be tempting to let the numbers tell a story with computer-assisted reporting, but she put the human face and consequences into her comprehensive articles. As a result, she provided riveting examples of flight from Washington to Baltimore in search of cheap housing.”
Entries fropm professional journalists were received from across the country in 21 different categories. The first place overall winner, Hopkins, received a $1,500 award. All first place winners were awarded a $250 stipend and all winners received a certificate of excellence.
The winners were selected by a panel of judges from the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.
Other category winners included:
1. Sandra Fleishman of the Washington Post for Best Newspaper Report, more than 250,000 circulation;
2. Shannon Behnken of the Tampa Tribune for Best Newspaper Report, less than 250,000 circulation;
3. Peter Robison of Bloomberg News for Best Online Report;
4. Carol Massar of Bloomberg TV for Best Broadcast Report;
5. Michele Derus of the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel for Best Newspaper Real Estate Section, more than 250,000 circulation;
6. Bill Hartnett of the Palm Beach Post for Best Newspaper Real Estate Section, less than 250,000 circulation.
Yours truly was the luncheon speaker today, thus no posts until now.
William Holstein, in what might be his final column as editor of Chief Executive magazine, lamented the declining quality in business journalism. He blamed it on publications that are cutting back in their networks of correspondents and reporters, and in wanting to bring in some fresh blood, i.e. young reporters.
Holstein writes, “Fortune magazine now has one full-time staffer on the ground in Asia and one in Europe. Thatâ€™s it. Business Week has folded its international editions and downgraded its Tokyo bureau to local hires. Forbes has scrapped Forbes Global. And forget television. The major networks have largely demolished their bureau networks. Fox has never built one. CNN has demonstrated that it canâ€™t make a go of it in business news, aside from Lou Dobbsâ€™ latest tirades. And CNBC has long ago forgotten any global aspirations.
“The quality of people get cut back. Tens of thousands of seasoned journalists have been fired, downsized, outsourced or just plain canned in the past few years. The mantra is, ‘Letâ€™s bring in the children.’ The folks in charge, with marketing or technology or financial backgrounds, donâ€™t see a difference in the end product, whether produced by experienced staff or newbies. But itâ€™s obvious to me, a practitioner, that the product has been degraded. You know it as well. When CEOs see business reporters coming in the front door, they are usually unseasoned and naÃ¯ve.
“Real business coverage gets cut back. There seems to be a stampede toward covering business as an extension of lifestyle, whether fashion or music or games or sports. Fortune magazine now has a managing editor with absolutely no business journalism experience and its new photo editor comes from, get this, Details magazine. No wonder the Big Three business magazines are in trouble with business readers theyâ€™re turning themselves into consumer-oriented magazines. The Wall Street Journalâ€™s weekend edition also has flopped with business readers largely because you donâ€™t have to read it.”
Holstein’s solution? Have a CEO of a company “adopt” a business journalist in the area, and have them sit in on meetings and explain to them how businesses work and what a CEO’s job is.
Read the rest of his column here, as well as some comments from readers.
Chief Executive announced Thursday that J.P. Donlon has rejoined the magazine as editor-in-chief.
He replaces William Holstein, who had replaced Donlon as editor-in-chief. Holstein is a former BusinessWeek editor. There is no word on where he is going in the press release. The magazine’s West Coast editor, Russ Mitchell, is also a former BusinessWeek editor and correspondent.
Donlon worked for Chief Executive for 22 years, including serving as editor from 1981 through 2001. While at Chief Executive, J.P. launched two of the magazine’s most exciting and successful programs — the Chief Executive Roundtable and the CEO of the Year Award.
“We are excited to have J.P. back at Chief Executive. He is without peer when it comes to knowing what keeps CEOs up at night and is committed to exploring those issues in the magazine and at our events,” commented Edward M. Kopko, chairman, CEO and publisher of Chief Executive, in a release. “We understand the importance of providing CEOs with the tools they need to compete in today’s world. With J.P.’s help, we look forward to bringing the magazine and events to the next level.”
Donlon said: “Chief Executive is the preeminent brand and forum for business leaders and I am delighted to rejoin and help the team take it to the next level of success with new products and ways to help CEOs elevate their game.”
Prior to rejoining Chief Executive, Donlon was editor of Directorship, the business monthly of views, best practices, and issues driving corporate governance published by Directorship Services LLC. In addition to his editorial duties, he was actively involved in the firm’s governance and leadership conferences, communications, and business development.
Chief Executive magazine has about 170,000 readers.