Monthly Archives: August 2006
Cable business news channel CNBC plans to start a business channel covering Africa that will be based on Johannesburg, according to a wire story Thursday.
Called CNBC Africa and done in conjunction with Africa Business News, the channel will be the first regional business and financial TV news channel for sub-Saharan Africa, according to the story. (Note sure if I agree with that statement. Johannesburg-based Johnnic Communications has a business channel called Summit TV that is a joint venture with the Financial Times parent.)
The wire story stated, “CNBC Africa will focus on Africa’s markets and provide global business news from an African perspective, initially with six hours of dedicated African programming each weekday.
“The channel will have business and financial news with commentary, CEO interviews, news analysis and live data.
“It will carry CNBC’s signature real-time share ticker of live stock-price data and incorporate live data from key African stock exchanges with data from all of the leading European bourses and from the United States and Asia, during their trading day.”
Read more here.
The blog Talking Biz News celebrates its first birthday today, Aug. 31, 2006.
The idea for a blog devoted to the discussion of issues surrounding business journalism and news events actually goes back to mid-2005 as part of talks among members of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers’ education committee. It just took a while to get the site up and running. SABEW provided $150 to register the domain name.
Since that time, Talking Biz News has become my pet project. I have been assisted by my grad student, Anne Hillman, who serves as my editor and design guru. (She asked if we were having cupcakes today.)
For the first few months, different formats and strategies were explored. In the beginning, for example, there were not as many posts as what you see today. In addition, there were posts about business journalism in other countries. That was our Beta version.
Since Jan. 1, 2006, Talking Biz News has focused on providing readers with the latest information, commentary and news about business journalism in the United States. (Yes, there were some posts about South African business journalism earlier this month, but that’s a rarity.) Some of the content on the blog has been independently reported, such as interviews with business journalism legend Myron Kandel and new SABEW president Dave Kansas. In addition, the site was the first to report on “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer‘s compensation by reading the proxy statement of TheStreet.com.
Along the way, new features have been added, such as a list of the top business journalism events for the first six months of the year, and another list of the top critics of business journalism. The blog has even been mentioned in the New York Times.
All told, there have been more than 1,300 posts in the past year and more than 250 comments. Since the beginning of the year, the site has averaged about 5 posts per day, including weekends. (Since the beginning of the year, Talking Biz News has gone just seven days without a post.) Most of the posts come from searching the Internet for interesting stuff and relying on the Google News search function. (I also get links from devoted readers. Keep ‘em coming, and thanks.) The largest number of comments came from a post about CNBC anchor Ted David stepping away from TV to do more radio. Ted has a large fan base.
Today, the site averages nearly 375 visits a day and more than 550 page views. On a per-month basis, that’s about 11,000 visits and 17,000 page views. Needless to say, those numbers continue to increase as more people hear about the site and become regular readers.
Now that the site is a year old, I’d like open the content of Talking Biz News up for discussion to the readers: What do you like and dislike about the site? Is there something that Talking Biz News should be addressing more often?
Before you bombard me with comments, please understand that this is a labor of love. I am not paid anything to run this blog, and only post when I get the opportunity.
The floor is now open for discussion. Unfortunately, there is no birthday cake and ice cream. Thanks for reading.
Ken Shepherd of the Business & Media Institute argues that CNN’s Ali Velshi is unfairly criticizing insurance companies in coverage about the industry as part of reporting on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Shepherd wrote, “Yet elsewhere in his story, Velshi admitted that one insurance company was unable to talk to Velshi about individual cases, exactly the topic of Velshiâ€™s story: individual cases of frustrated insurance claimants.
“‘Allstate says it wonâ€™t comment on specific cases,’ he noted after highlighting one coupleâ€™s gripes about the company.
“In fact, many companies refuse to comment to the media about cases under litigation or threat of litigation, and Velshi should know it. Instead, the business reporter could have sought comment from the American Insurance Association (AIA) or the Insurance Information Institute (III) for industry input in his story.
“Indeed, thatâ€™s what he did two days earlier, when Velshi filed a similarly slanted story about damage to one Cecil Tillmanâ€™s property in his first installment of ‘Red Tape and Rubble.’ In his August 28 story, Velshi noted that ‘we wanted to ask Nationwide about Tillmanâ€™s case, but the firm wouldnâ€™t comment, so we went to the Insurance Information Institute, the industryâ€™s public relations arm.’
“Whatâ€™s more, while Velshiâ€™s featured hurricane victims may have legitimate complaints, the CNN reporter failed to note that these cases in the tiny minority of insurance claims, according to the III. The organization reported on August 22 that 95 percent of claims from Katrina have been finalized ‘and the vast majority’ of those dealing with insurance claims in Mississippi and Louisiana ‘are satisfied with their insurance company.’”
Read more here. As someone who spent a decade covering the insurance industry, it’s not an easy beat, and there are plenty of negative stories to write. But fairness should always come first.
San Jose Mercury News business reporter Matt Marshall is leaving the paper on Friday to run VentureBeat, a new Web site devoted to the Silicon Valley community. However, the Mercury News will be a customer of Marshall’s, according to his first post.
In an e-mail, Marshall wrote, “VentureBeat will focus initially on Silicon Valley, and gradually, when possible, expand to cover innovation hubs around the globe.
“VentureBeat’s mission is to provide news and information about private companies and the venture capital that fuels them. People are at the heart of this project. VentureBeat will be a resource for entrepreneurs and other interested professionals facing some the biggest decisions of their careers.”
In his first post on the site, Marshall stated, “My Mercury News colleague Michael Bazeley and I launched SiliconBeat.com almost two years ago, in an effort to respond to the new reality of online media. The blog began as an experiment, taking up an hour or so of my day. Soon, it became much more: Baze and I found ourselves spending several hours daily on a blog that was supposed to be outside of our day jobs at the Merc. Baze, showing more sanity, pulled back from SiliconBeat and has taken a job managing the Mercury Newsâ€™ Web site. For me, SiliconBeat continued as a labor of love, a way to filter the goings-on of this fascinating place we call Silicon Valley. Yet I was doing too much. So I approached the Mercury News, and told them I wanted to go out on my own.
“To my delight, the Mercury News has become my first customer. It will syndicate the content I produce here. It has the right to run it in the paper, and to put it on their Web site. For me, it is a great deal. The Merc is the valleyâ€™s paper of record. It is my first read in the morning, and what I do here at VentureBeat is linked with the Mercâ€™s mission. Like most of the people at the Merc, I care about the community in a broader sense. That is why Iâ€™m covering things from a geographical standpoint, as opposed to an industry niche.”
Read more here.
Boston Herald business columnist Brett Arends wonders whether competitor Boston Globe went soft on James Kilts’ compensation because he’s now on the board of parent company The New York Times Co.
Arends notes that it was the Globe that went as far as to hire a compensation consultant to assess Kilts’ pay when he was head of local company Gillette. However, this time around, the Globe didn’t include his stock options in totalling his compensation package, and the story didn’t include a byline — all factors that made Arends suspicious.
Arends wrote, “Procter & Gamble documents put the figure at $19.1 million.
“Thatâ€™s the figure Bloomberg News reported. But then, Jim Kilts does not sit on the board of Bloomberg.
“The Globe figure magically ignored Kiltsâ€™ $15.7 million in fresh stock options.
“Thatâ€™s like trying to judge Big Papiâ€™s season and leaving out the home runs.
“It wasnâ€™t an oversight. The Globe saw the options package . . . and buried it.
“Halfway down the story, and well padded.
“No mention in the headline. No mention in the lead.
“This is the paper that once hired an outside consultant to value Kiltsâ€™ full compensation, options and all.
“But then, that was before he joined the parent companyâ€™s board.
Read more here.
The e-mail below is one that I received from a public relations person at General Motors today, asking me to send student journalists to an event that the company will be holding in Las Vegas next month.
Maybe I’m just a bit jaded, but I have a problem with this solicitation. It seems what young student journalists would be “learning” from this experience is how to take a free trip and meals from one of the company’s largest corporations. I hope that wasn’t GM’s intention, but it’s not how we train future business journalists in the 21st century.
Am I wrong?
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2006 8:43 PM
Subject: URGENT – General Motors College Journalists Event
I’m writing to inform you of General Motors’ First College Journalists Event taking place in Las Vegas, NV on September 9-10th. This is the first time we’ve done this sort of event and it’ll be a great learning opportunity for young journalists. The program will focus on car customization culture which is relevant to young adults.
While in Las Vegas the college journalists will have the opportunity to meet with professional journalists and GM executives who’ll be in attendance. GM will pay for travel, hotel and meals for students that attend. Travel will be scheduled so students don’t miss any school (arrivals and departures will take place during the weekend).
More information on the program is below. Please feel free to forward the information below to students you believe are qualified and would benefit from this opportunity. For questions or more information, please contact me at 805-373-9523 or email@example.com.
(805) 373-9523 (office)
(805) 208-5249 (cell)
(805) 373-9648 (fax)
GM Communications Western Region
515 Marin Street, Suite 216, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
UPDATE on Aug. 31, 2006 at 10:24 a.m.: I ran this by two public relations professors whom I respect, and this was their responses:
1. Don’t journalists get free use of new cars for extended periods so that they can review them? Why should the collegiate press be denied the same sort of opportunity that full-time journalists enjoy? GM’s cost probably is comparable for both. If you are suggesting no journalist should ever accept a complimentary favor, I might agree. However, many full-time journalists take advantage of — even seek out — comps, particularly in certain industries. When I was at Dial, we were besieged with requests from journalists for complimentary lodging in the Glacier Park hotels that we operated and for complimentary accommodations on Premier Cruise Lines. At the other extreme, reporters at the Wall Street Journal returned the holiday medallions that were blistered into the Christmas cards that we sent them when I worked at Franklin Mint Corporation. They kept the cards but scissored out the medallions and mailed them back.
In this case, I might question whether GM will get much value from this junket, but it does not look unethical to me to offer it. GM is facing a stark future, and the company needs to find new ways to refresh and rebuild interest in its products.
2. How is this any different from what the big car companies have been doing for working journalists since the 1950s? Maybe the airplane ticket isn’t paid for anymore, but it sure sounds to me like the regular old rollout of the new models, etc. And what about car companies letting reporters from car mags and large newspapers drive their new models for awhile so they get the feel of it and can write about it? Is that really any different? And can young student journalists be bought so cheaply that they’ll pander to this co. the
next time they write a story about it? Oh ye of little faith! Frankly, I’m bothered more by the fact that the email author said students that, rather than students who.
The Wall Street Journal will begin running ads on the front page of the newspaper starting next week, according to a story by New York Post reporter Holly Sanders.
Sanders wrote, “The Journal approached its biggest and most important advertisers after deciding to charge top dollar for the premium space in the financial daily.
“Advertisers, including Toyota and General Motors, committed to 15-month contracts in order to get access to the pricey real estate, according to an advertising source.
“The auto giants are typically among the biggest ad spenders, both in print and on television.”
Sanders wrote that Toyota’s ads will run on Wednesdays and General Motors’ on Fridays. Read more here.
I wonder what will happen the first time there is a negative story about Toyota on the front page on a Wednesday, or a negative story about GM on the front page on a Friday.
MarketWatch.com’s Frank Barnako writes on his blog that business cable network CNBC could begin podcasting soon.
Barnako wrote, “It may be just a matter of days until CNBC-TV begins podcasting some of its US programming.
“The cable network’s Asian and European units have already taken their first steps. Europe posted eight interviews produced at the Cannes Advertising Festival, and CNBC Asia says it is offering replays of ‘CEO Call’, ‘The CNBC Conversation,’ and other segments. The effort looks kind of half-hearted so far. ‘CEO Call’ doesn’t seem to have anything available. The one ‘Conversation’ is almost a month old.
“But there seems to at least be interest. CNBC’s Asia-Pacific senior vice president, Cynthia Owens, said podcasts are a way for the network to ‘reach our viewers where they want CNBC.’”
Read more here.
The editorial team at new business magazine Conde Nast Portfolio is beginning to take shape as editor Joanne Lipman has hired another staff member, this time poaching from her former employer, The Wall Street Journal, reports the New York Post’s Keith Kelly.
Kelly wrote, “Her latest WSJ hire: Jesse Eisinger, who wrote the Long & Short column for the paper. Prior to that he wrote Ahead of the Tape, a daily look at market-moving events, and earlier spent two years in London, where he conceived the Heard in Europe column for The Wall Street Journal Europe.
“He is married to Wall Street Journal media reporter Sarah Ellison, who only recently took over the publishing beat at the paper.”
Read more here.
Eisinger, a 1992 graduate of Columbia University, previously worked at TheStreet.com, where he covered the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, and he also worked at Dow Jones News Service and at Quick Nikkei News, a wire service, in Santiago, Chile.
Jerry Lessenberry, who writes a column for the Metro Times, the alternative newspaper in Detroit, has recently been criticizing the Detroit papers for their unimaginative coverage.
As a result, Lessenberry has been hearing back from some former Detroit reporters and editors about what’s wrong with the papers. One of them wrote this item about the Free Press, which is now owned by Gannett after years of being a Knight-Ridder paper, and its business desk:
“They kicked the business editor out the door without a plan, then were turned down by six candidates who decided they couldn’t work here. Finally, they promoted [Paul] Anger’s henchman from Des Moines, who he’d brought here in the spring … the current staff was largely made of strike-breakers from the ’90s, but they were at least motivated. Now they’re on autopilot.”
For the record, the business editor at the Free Press referred to is Randy Essex, who had been the metro editor and the Iowa editor for the Des Moines Register paper.
Read more here.