Monthly Archives: July 2008
Financial news Web site TheStreet.com reported Thursday thatÂ second-quarter revenue rose 32 percent because of more advertising, but profits fell.
A story on its site stated, “For the quarter ended June 30, the New York-based financial media company reported revenue of $19.7 million, compared with $14.9 million for the year-earlier period. Net income fell to $2.3 million, or 7 cents a share, from $3.6 million, or 12 cents a share, in the prior year, as depreciation and amortization costs more than tripled to $1.58 million.
“Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting earnings of 7 cents a share and revenue of $19.3 million.
“Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, excluding stock compensation of $1 million, totaled $4.6 million, an increase of 16% from adjusted EBITDA of $3.9 million in the second quarter of 2007.
“‘Our second-quarter results confirm that our decision to position TheStreet.com network as the leading online destination for ‘all things money’ continues to resonate with the advertising community,’ said Thomas J. Clarke Jr., chairman and chief executive of TheStreet.com. ‘With a record number of unique visitors, the highest monetization rate in our history and our continued strength with non-financial advertisers, we are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities before us.’”
Read more here.Â
Stephen Shankland of CNET News writes Friday that activist investor Carl Icahn is upset with The Wall Street Journal for its coverage of his tactics in pressuring companies.
Shankland writes, “In taking The Wall Street Journal to task, Icahn argues activist shareholders are a positive force for corporate change and that the media is too cozy with corporate management.
“‘Historians will marvel at why the press won’t write more about the egregious abuses and mismanagement at corporate boards in America and The Wall Street Journal article of July 22 is a good example of this abdication,’ he said. ‘Are they intimidated by legions of public relations executives who spend shareholder money to defend bad managers and bad management decisions? Are they worried their access to management will dry up if they give too much ink to corporate critics? Are they beholden to the corporate interests of their parent companies, the media conglomerates? Or is it just easier to toe the company line?’
“After defending his record, he added, ‘Not all of my investments work out, but my record demonstrates that shareholder activism is a viable — and essential — strategy. I applaud those who undertake it, providing it is done intelligently and not recklessly or irresponsibly. It will be a good day for the American media when activism at faltering companies is applauded and not misunderstood or cast in a negative light–as it all-too-often is.’”
Read more here.Â
Bernie Kohn, assistant managing editor for business at the Baltimore Sun and current president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, is moving to becomeÂ the head of the paperâ€™s investigations team.
His successorÂ as biz editor is Trif Alatzas, currently one of the two deputy biz editors at the paper. Alatzas has been a deputy since 2004 and previously served as real estate editor. He was also business editor at the Wilmington (Del.) News-Journal before going to the Sun. Alatzas also spent nearly six years as a reporter for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
The other deputy biz editor, Georgia Marudas, is taking the buyout after 22 years at The Sun and Evening Sun, the last 15 of them as an assistant or deputy biz editor.
The deputy slots will not be filled, and the business news department becomes a team within the paperâ€™s main news operations.
In addition, two reporters are departing the biz desk. Laura McCandlish is leaving the paper to relocate to Oregon with her husband, and Paul Adams is leaving to go into PR at Constellation Energy.Â
Kohn previously was at The Washington Post as night business editor. Before that he spent three years as business editor at the Tampa Tribune. His Tampa staff received honors in the SABEW Best in Business contest each year.
New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera responded Thursday to criticism that he should have gotten Apple CEO Steve Jobs to talk on the record about his health issues.
Nocera wrote, “I did try to keep the conversation on the record, but again, Jobs is a pro â€” he knew what he wanted from the conversation before he made the call. He wanted to somehow neuter my column by giving me the information I was digging for. Truth is, heâ€™s talked to quite a few people about his health problems â€” just not shareholders. So when Jobs said it was off the record or nothing, I had a choice. I could have said, ‘forget it, Iâ€™ll go with what I have.’
“Or I could have said â€” as I did â€” O.K., youâ€™re holding most of the cards here, so Iâ€™ll listen to what you have to say. I had to make a quick decision, and I think I made the right one. But to those who disagree â€” and think I should have ended the call without getting the off-the-record information â€” point well taken.”
Read more here. Nocera said he called the Apple PR department after the interview in an attempt to get some of the conversation on the record.
TheStreet.com media critic Marek Fuchs takes issue with reporting at Forbes and the New York Times that ignores or plays down the risk that Merrill Lynch has kept by financing a deal to take $11 billion of risky investments off its books.
Fuchs writes, “And, as happens when you don’t let your foot get caught on the details of a deal, a false conclusion came next, set out happily in the very next line:
‘John Thain, Merrill’s chief executive officer, appears to be doing everything he can to wipe the slate clean for the company.’
“Yes, he’s wiping the slate clean … by financing the sale of the bucket of slop and keeping much of the risk.
“While Forbes really struck out on behalf of investors, others — like The New York Times — at least touched upon the technicalities of the financing but failed to explain what it meant.”
Read more here.
In his last column, Baltimore Sun personal tech columnist Mike Himowitz writes about how he used the earliest personal computers as a reporting tool and how faithful readers saved his long-running column.
Himowitz writes, “Today this is known as Computer Assisted Reporting, a recognized specialty that gives reporters and editors the power to sort through huge volumes of public data and write stories that might have taken months or years in the days before PCs — if they were possible to do at all. Like me, most of the people who do this are not math jocks or geeks — just reporters who want answers to questions and use computers as a tool.
“After I’d bungled my way through enough of this stuff to be dangerous, I thought it might a fun sideline to share what I’d learned with readers who were still mystified by the digital world but keen to learn more about it.
“As it turned out, there were and are plenty of you — enough to have rescued the column twice over the years when the bean counters threatened to kill it off. For that outpouring of support, I will always be grateful.
“Alas, there aren’t enough of you in general these days. Readers, I mean. Not to mention advertisers.”
Read more here.
Mike Himowitz, who has written a personal tech column for the Baltimore Sun for the past two decades and has been at the paper for 34 years, has accepted the paper’s buyout offer.
His last day was Wednesday. His last column for the paper will appear on Thursday. His previous two columns had looked at the Kindle and the latest iPhone.
In an e-mail that Himowitz sent to the staff Wednesday afternoon, he wrote, “I will miss you all.Â Only one word of advice:Â No matter how hard things seem in the next few months, rememberÂ this still beats workin’ for a living.”
Himowitz was also the science and medicine editor at the paper. He is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in political science. His personal tech column runs in about a dozen other papers.
Herron writes, “‘Going after affluent readers and trying to attract luxury advertisers isn’t exactly a unique strategy,’ said Mike Simonton, a media analyst at Fitch Ratings, a credit analysis agency.
“But he questions whether that market will hold.
“‘While more resilient than the middle-class and mass-market merchandisers, we think this target will still be negatively impacted by a downturn; making it an interesting time to introduce this product,’ he said.
“WSJ will debut on Sept. 3 as a quarterly publication before going monthly in 2009. It will be distributed with the Journal’s Saturday edition and won’t be sold separately.
“The company said the magazine will cover ‘modern wealth,’ with topics that include cars, fashion, philanthropy and travel.”
Read more here.
Allen Wastler, the managing editor of CNBC.com, writes Wednesday that readers of his Web site aren’t that interested in stories about the world trade talks breaking down.
Wastler writes, “Sure the world trade talks, which just crumpled for the umpteenth time, are very, very important. Global trade is one of those macro-economic things that touches everyone in one way or another. A farmer or factory worker suddenly faces overseas competition that puts them out of a job. Consumers suddenly find lower prices and more choices. Trade rattles all the way down the food chain and can be good or bad, depending on your point of view.
“Something business news readers should stay on top of, no?
“But readers hate it. At least that’s what my traffic meters tell me. Why? Well, it’s theoretical and pretty far from the here and now. Not like stories of people trying to get money out of failing banks or gas prices suddenly swinging by a dollar. Also, the trade discussions are handled by full-blown, bureaucratic diplomats. Their messages to one another may be full of nuanced meaning … but their diplo-speak rarely makes riveting news copy.”
Read more here.
Former BusinessWeek writer Gary Weiss writes Wednesday that business journalists should use caution when writing to those who oppose naked short selling, as a Seattle Times business reporter’s e-mail has now been posted on a message board.
Weiss writes, “SOP is for journalists to respond to readers emails, but if you do that you risk what happened to a reporter for the Seattle Times named Drew DeSilver. Note this post yesterday on the stock message board for Overstock, which mainly serves as a kind of organizing center for stock promoters, hatchet men on Byrne’s personal payroll and deranged stock market conspiracy theorists.
“DeSilver, who tells me that has never actually written on the subject, made the mistake of responding to an email from a seemingly rational naked shorting conspiracist who gave his name as ‘Shawn Brandom.’ DeSilver made the mistake of disagreeing with Brandom, who retaliated by posting his email and his email address with this message to his fellow loons: ‘GIVE HIM SOME GRIEF!!!!!!’”
Read more here.