Monthly Archives: April 2008
Nick Denton of Gawker writes Wednesday that Wall Street Journal publisher Robert Thomson – who is now de-facto head of the newsroom as well in lieu of managing editor Marcus Brauchli‘s resignation — reamed out staff writers on Monday for not being aggressive enough.
Denton writes, “According to two attendees, Thomson berated the assembled reporters for their lack of aggression in reporting news and their arrogance. The Journal, he said, took this attitude: ‘If we haven’t written about it, it’s not news.’
“Now that is apparently a general complaint of Murdoch and his henchmen, who want the Journal to compete more fiercely for both political and business scoops â€” and the criticism not entirely unwarranted. Thomson, Australian and 30 years to the day Murdoch’s junior, is the product of the more robust newsroom cultures of Sydney and London; Journal reporters are unaccustomed to such frank talk from their bosses. And all that Thomson meant to say â€” we understand â€” was that the Journal was now in an ultra-competitive world in which it had to be conscious of the challengers, old and new. Uncontroversial enough.
“But his sensitive audience took his remarks the wrong way. The newspaper had just that morning published an exclusive on the gigantic $23bn bid by Mars and Warren Buffett for Wrigley, the chewing gum makers. According to one attendee, stock market reporter Jim Browning said he was ‘personally offended’ by the suggestion that the newspaper’s reporters didn’t try to break news. Thomson’s jokeâ€”that former managing editor Paul Steiger was extremely competitive on the softball fieldâ€”failed to defuse the tension.”
Read more here.
AÂ newÂ publication called New Mexico Business Magazine will launch in May and be distributed across the state, according to a release.
The new magazine is aimed at CEOs, high-level business executives, managers, owners of small businesses and others in the business community. The magazine will focus on issues important to New Mexico’s growing business community.
The publication replaces the New Mexico Business Journal, which ceased operations earlier this year. While not related to the New Mexico Business Journal, the magazine is published by Doug Stine who was editor-in-chief for the Business Journal. Stine has also taken over the subscriber list of the Business Journal.
“Most business magazines look like trade magazines,” says Stine in the release. “We believe business is exciting. We want to kick up some dust and bring a new viewpoint to the business community.” The May issue is scheduled to debut May 1, and the June issue will feature in-depth profiles of New Mexico’s candidates for U.S. senator.
The initial print run will be 12,000 copies. While more than half of the circulation will be in the greater Albuquerque area, the magazine will be mailed to subscribers state-wide as well as distributed to chambers of commerce, professional associations and networking events. It will also be available in major bookstores and newsstands.
Read more here.
TheStreet.com media critic Marek Fuchs writes Wednesday that an Associated Press story on Domino’s first-quarter earnings missed the bigger story at the pizza chain.
Fuchs writes, “Look at this headline, which ran Tuesday night: ‘Domino’s Pizza shares up after company reports 1Q profit.’ The AP began its lead with the same claim before launching into a second clause that rendered news of that big rise as meaningless as gills on a bird:
‘Shares of pizza delivery chain Domino’s Pizza Inc. rose Tuesday after the company reported a big rise in first-quarter profit, helped by expenses that weighed down the year-ago results.’
“After a breathless headline and first clause of the lead momentarily tricked The Business Press Maven into thinking that Domino’s has fixed its problems, which are crust-deep everywhere but overseas, we get this:
‘Before the market opened Tuesday, Domino’s said a recapitalization in 2007 led to far lower results in the year ago quarter. Excluding those expenses, the company’s profit would have fallen in the 2008 first quarter.’”
Read more here.
Keith Kelly of the New York Post writes Wednesday that Ziff Davis, the publisher of PC Magazine, has reached an agreement with its creditors to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy court protection.
Kelly writes, “In its court filings the company said that from 2001 to 2007, its advertising revenue plunged to $40 million from $215 million, while total revenue in the period dropped to $76 million from $300 million.
“Today, the company still has its one-time flagship PC Magazine and Electronic Gaming magazine and about 15 Web sites.
“The company said the plan, which has yet to be approved, will convert over $428 million in ‘indebtedness’ into new company stock along with a loan note of $57.5 million. Willis Stein would then own less than 10 percent of the company.
“New CEO Jason Young said, ‘the plan reflects their confidence in the strength of our business and our ability to unlock the underlying value in the company.’”
Read more here.Â
Ted David, a longtime personality at CNBC, is leaving the network at the end of the week, according to a posting from Chris Ariens at TVNewser. He had been the main voice of CNBC Radio.
A memo from CNBC vice president Jonathan Wald stated, “One of CNBC’s originals is moving on. Ted David started here just a month before CNBC went on the air in 1989 and he has been a valued member of the staff ever since, most recently as the principal voice of CNBC Radio. Please join me in thanking Ted for his many years of service at CNBC. We wish him the best of luck in his retirement. Ted’s last day on air will be May 2.”
Prior to joining CNBC, David was an ABC News correspondent for eight years and specialized in general news, as well as medical and consumer issues. Ted also has been a radio news director and DJ in New York City.
He has won numerous awards including a National Press Club citation for Best Consumer Journalism; The Ohio State Award for Excellence in Educational, Informational and Public Affairs Broadcasting; and The American Cancer Societyâ€™s Gaspar Award.
Dow Jones Newswires was named Best News Provider at the Inside Market Data Awards 2008 ceremony heldÂ Tuesday in New York.
This is the second consecutive year that Dow Jones Newswires has won an Inside Market Data award for Best News Provider and the fourth time overall. Other finalists in the category included Bloomberg News and Reuters.
The Inside Market Data awards recognize industry excellence within market data, reference data and enterprise data management.
â€œDow Jones helps business and financial professionals throughout the enterprise find the most trusted and relevant business information to drive faster, better-informed, and more profitable decisions,â€? said Clare Hart, executive vice president of Dow Jones and president of Dow Jones Enterprise Media Group, in a statement. â€œAnd weâ€™re committed to offering our customers a choice in how they want news and information delivered -â€“ both on and off the market data terminal.”
Read more here.
Shira Ovide, who has been covering the media industry for Dow Jones Newswires, will now cover newspapers for The Wall Street Journal, according to an internalÂ memo.
Dow Jones assistant managing editor George Stahl of Dow Jones writes, “I am pleased to announce that Shira Ovide will be joining The Wall Street Journal as a media reporter with a focus on newspapers. Her last day at Newswires will be Friday.
“Shira has been the Newswiresâ€™ media reporter for 20 months. During that time, she has focused on the industryâ€™s transition away from traditional outlets and into a new digital universe; detailed an increasingly challenged and consolidating newspaper industry; and broken news on the leveraged buyout of Clear Channel, a deal sheâ€™s covered for 18 of her 20 months here. We are grateful for those efforts. We, of course, will miss Shiraâ€™s dedication, as well as her readiness to tackle whatever was assigned to her. We wish her all the best in her new role.”
Ovide has been with Dow Jones since August 2006. She is a graduate of Haverford College and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.
Personal finance columnist Scott Burns took a buyout from the Dallas Morning News in 2006, but he continues to write his syndicated column while also working as the chief investment strategist at AssetBuilder Inc., an investment adviser.
BurnsÂ graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in humanities and biology. He began his newspaper career as a newspaper columnist at the Boston Herald in 1977 where he was also the financial editor. The column was nationally syndicated in 1981 and is now distributed by Universal Press. In 1985 he joined the staff of the Morning News where his column quickly became one of the most widely read features in the paper.
Talking Biz News recently caught up with Burns and talked to him about what he thinks about the current state of business journalism and where it’s headed. What follows is an edited transcript.
How did you get interested in writing about personal finance?
As a child I went from sharing a rented room with my single parent mother to being a millionaireâ€™s stepson. It made me very curious about people and money.
What did you like about business journalism?
It focuses on verbs rather than adjectives. Itâ€™s the language of human action.
How did business journalism change during your career?
Access to financial information and research data increased incredibly with the Internet and the Web. In the ’70s you could spend an entire day getting a few scraps of information from, say, the business branch of Boston Public Library. Today you can be buried in information in a few clicks.
Access changed in the same way for the general public. As a result, the value premium for being able to synthesize and frame issues has increased.
Why did you decide to leave the Morning News?
Three reasons: 1.) Long ago I vowed to live my work life so that my employer would worry about how to keep me, rather than how to get rid of me. In the current environment that is impossible. 2.) We had been financially prepared for several years, largely because I do what I recommend in my columns. 3.) I was confident that I had plenty of interesting work in hand — such as finishing â€œSpend Tilâ€™ the Endâ€? with Larry Kotlikoff. The book, which Simon & Schuster is releasing in June, presents a serious challenge to conventional financial planning.
What I didnâ€™t know was that the day I made the decision to leave, friends would say, â€œLetâ€™s start AssetBuilderâ€? that night over dinner.
What do you miss about full-time business journalism?
I did enjoy being part of a large organization that communicated the full human condition. I was proud to be at the Boston Herald when Stanley Forman won one of his Pulitzers for his pictures. I was just as proud to be at the Dallas Morning News for the Pulitzers there.
But moving from being a full-time observer to being an actual action figure — to creating new offers and possibilities with a small team of people — is even better.
How is your current work similar to what you were doing at the Morning News?
My primary task is the same: communicating. Today, Iâ€™m doing more of it on the Web through our reader forums. This is very demanding but itâ€™s also very exciting — thereâ€™s a much greater sense of contact and immediacy.
You’re still writing your syndicated column. How hard is it to continue writing and work as an investment adviser?
Itâ€™s not a problem. Iâ€™ve been managing money for a handful of friends for over a decade. I always thought the experience was very useful, just as I thought having been a corporate director was very useful. Itâ€™s one thing to write about investing money, itâ€™s another thing to actually do it. When I was mostly a journalist, managing money improved my understanding and writing. Thatâ€™s what it does today.
Of course, I couldnâ€™t say this if I was trying to accumulate positions in obscure stocks. But Iâ€™m an index investor, not a stock picker, so none of the usual conflicts have much bearing. There is no chance that I would ever make any money by buying, say, an emerging market ETF and then writing about it.
Are there any ethical issues that you’ve faced by wearing both hats?
None yet. I write for the self-directed investor. I never mention AssetBuilder in the column.
What do you think about what’s going on now with daily business sections cutting back on stock listings and some papers cutting their standalone sections?
Cutting back on stock listings is overdue by decades. Back in the early ’80s, when I was business editor at the Boston Herald American, I wanted to use computers to give readers more information on less newsprint. I wrote the code to do it. I took the idea and paste-up samples of my â€œUnified Stock Exchangeâ€? to Associated Press and got looks of non-comprehension. Ditto the publisher of the Boston Herald American. But the reality is that newspapers are a poor source for pricing information today and have been for many, many years.
By the way, I had my â€œUnified Stock Exchangeâ€? framed and it now hangs on my office wall at AssetBuilder, a reminder to avoid being on the Bleeding Edge.
What do you think business and personal finance journalism will need to do to survive in the changing media world?
It will continue doing what it has already done — focus on the mobility, ability and adaptability of individuals and small teams. Weâ€™ll have more churn in publication titles but weâ€™ll also have a lot more offerings. We are no longer bound by the habits and conventions of newspapers/print media.
Today we have more freedom than ever before to say, â€œLetâ€™s go for it!â€?
Anything else on your mind about the state of business journalism today?
As much as I love newspapers, they are hamstrung by their attachment to a business model that no longer works. The longer management views them as â€œpropertiesâ€? — rather than collections of talent awaiting redeployment — the greater the danger career journalists face.
The committee designed to protect the editorial freedom of The Wall Street Journal from owner News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch believes that the safeguards were violated when it was not notified beforehand of the resignation of managing editor Marcus Brauchli, writes Steve Stecklow of The Journal.
Stecklow writes, “The criticism came in a chronology the committee released on Tuesday surrounding the events that led to the surprise resignation of Mr. Brauchli on April 22. At a meeting that day, ‘Committee members expressed the view that learning of the Brauchli matter after the fact failed to meet the letter and the spirit of the agreement’ which outlines the body’s powers, the chronology stated. (See the chronology.)
“The committee said it relayed these concerns to officials at News Corp., which in December acquired Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal. A News Corp. spokesman declined to comment.
“Mr. Brauchli, a longtime Journal reporter and editor, resigned less than a year after he was named managing editor. He did so about 10 days after a meeting this month with Journal publisher Robert Thomson and Dow Jones Chief Executive Officer Leslie Hinton â€“- both News Corp. appointees â€“- in which they suggested it might be better to have their own person running the newspaper.”
read more here.
Tony Gnoffo, who has been the business editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer for most of the past 15 months, is leaving the paper to become managing editor of the Knowledge@Wharton web site for the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
“I’m thrilled about it,” says Gnoffo in an e-mail confirming his departure from the paper.
Roberta Shell, the editorial director at Knowledge@Wharton, told Talking Biz News, “Everyone I have talked to speaks very highly of him. We are thrilled that he is joining us.”
The web site is Wharton’s online journal of business research and analysis. In addition to the main site at Wharton,Â it has Chinese, Indian, Portuguese and Spanish editions, with close to 1.18 million subscribers overall. Gnoffo will have major responsibility for determining the editorial content of the main Knowledge@Wharton issue, including assigning and editing stories, and managing our many freelance writers.
Gnoffo became the Inquirer’s business editor in January 2007, and he presided over some dramatic changes. The paper’s business section is now running ads from a local bank in its masthead, and the bank also sponsors a column on the front page of the business section.
The move has been criticized by some in business journalism, but the revenue brought in additional staff members to the business desk.
Gnoffo stepped down as business editor last month and was replaced by Brian Toolan, the national editor for the Associated Press, who has been on the job now for a couple of weeks.
Before, Gnoffo had been deputy business editor and editor of the paper’s tech section. He also covered the cable/telecom beat as a reporter with primary responsibility for covering Comcast Corp. He also volunteered for hurricane duty, roughing it in the Katrina zone. He previously held other jobsÂ at the Inquirer, reporting from Trenton, editing in Cherry Hill, and running the Chester County Bureau.