Monthly Archives: November 2008
The Knoxville News Sentinel, which earlier this month cut all of its printed stock listings, is now bringing back its Saturday stock and mutual fund listings in the paper.
It will also expand its short daily list of stocks to include some widely held and heavily traded stocks.
Jack McElroy, the paper’s editor, writes Sunday that the changes were the result of reader complaints.
He writes, “The reaction from readers has been vociferous, which points to another great thing about our business: People are passionate about what we produce.
“‘You are messing with the paper until it has become not a favorite pastime of mine anymore!’ complained one subscriber.
“We don’t want that to happen, so in the next week or so, we’ll make adjustments so that the News Sentinel remains a favorite pastime.”
Read more here.
New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt writes Sunday about how the paper’s reporters covering the current economic turmoil have not been shy about expressing their opinion in their coverage.
One that drew his attention was reporterÂ Andrew Ross Sorkin calling for GM’s management to be fired.
Hoyt writes, “Keller said the columnâ€™s analysis was fine, but it ‘stepped over the line’ by calling for G.M.â€™s chief executive to be fired. Keller called a meeting of business editors and columnists last Monday to revisit a continuing debate about guidelines for columns on news pages.
“‘Subtlety and restraint are important in news columns,’ he told me. Business columnists must build a case through reporting that can lead a reader to a conclusion, Keller said. Op-Ed columnists have ‘greater license to write from an ideological viewpoint and be prescriptive.’
“Sorkin said his column was ‘impactful.’ He got a lot of positive reader feedback, and the column was read by lawmakers in Washington, he said. Sorkin, who as a reporter covers mergers and acquisitions, said he thinks carefully about the differing roles of news reporter and columnist and believes that readers understand the distinction. He felt he had no conflict in this case because he had not written a news article about the auto industry for more than a month.
“Keller, Whitney and Larry Ingrassia, the business editor, all made the case that readers of the business pages want more than the daily news, especially when it involves such complex subjects. ‘They want to know what it means and what we make of it,’ Ingrassia said.”
Read more here.
Nancy Barnes, the editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, writes Sunday about the paper’s series on rising food prices, which started today.
Barnes writes, “The world’s food markets have never been so interdependent, nor have its trading markets. A development in one part of the world — Chinese consuming more protein — can have consequences for the price of pork in your food aisle. A runup in the price of oil affects the cost of the packaging that goes into a box of Hamburger Helper. Investors, looking for the next sure bet, start pouring money into the futures market for grains, making food just another commodity (like oil) on which to place a bet.
“Any one of these events has a trickle-down effect through the entire food chain, which literally stretches from Papua New Guinea, where palm oil is produced, to your local grocery market. Add them all up and you have the recipe for what seem to be inexplicably higher prices.
“‘More than ever,’ said business editor Eric Wieffering, ‘the price you pay for food is beyond your control. The price you pay depends on what people in other parts of the world are doing.’
“Reporters who worked on this project learned a lot, and they hope our readers come away with a better understanding of how interconnected the world’s food supply is, where the weaknesses in the food chain lie and how these fault lines can erupt in the future with direct consequences for your grocery bill.”
Read more here.
Rich Heldenfels of the Akron Beacon Journal talks to Fox Business Network anchor Liz Claman, who explains her interviewing style.
Heldenfels writes,Â ”When she went toÂ CNBC, Claman said, her experience with business coverage had consisted of doing a single story about the demise of NewÂ Coke.
“‘But a good story is a good story,’ she said. ‘I started studying every day, every night.Â I would find out what stories were planned for the next day andÂ submerge myself in the subjects.”
“She also took pains not to be overly studied. When NBC brought her to its cable-business channel, she said, ‘they were looking for someone who could talk to the average Joe. . . . I didn’t have to know everything. I just had to know what to ask. An interview doesn’t have to be ‘let’s see what Liz Claman knows.’ ”’
Read more here.
TheStreet.com media critic Marek Fuchs finds the same old coverage of Black Friday — full of retail industry-driven melodrama.
Fuchs writes, “The anecdotes about sleep-deprived shoppers skipping out on Thanksgiving dessert to go out and shop are so ingrained that the statics don’t need to bear it out. Reporters just need one or two hungry, shivering shoppers to interview.
“The Journal News, a Westchester County, N.Y., paper, cut right to the chase. It didn’t even bother naming a specific shopper in its lead:
“‘They’ll wipe the sleep out of their eyes and pull on layers of sweatshirts, sweaters and jackets.
“‘Then they’ll head to a favorite store and stand in line before daybreak with dozens of other shopping warriors waiting for a manager to slip a key in the lock, turn his wrist and let them inside.’”
Read more here.Â
David Hatfield of Inside Tucson Business writes Friday that there’s talk of a new business magazine in the area.
Hatfield writes, “Thatâ€™s the idea being floated by Steve Rosenberg, former publisher of Tucson Lifestyle magazine.
“Now heâ€™s talking to advertising agencies about a project called BizTucson, subtitled Tucsonâ€™s Buziness Magazine.
“I tried to reach Rosenberg but with the short holiday week last week, we didnâ€™t connect. According to people at some of the advertising agencies he has contacted so far, Rosenberg is developing a monthly glossy magazine for a business audience. He is offering no specific start dates to agencies, except that it could be before next summer.”
Read more here.Â
MacMillan reports, “Unlike years past, the cocktail hour that preceded the Financial Follies dinner came with a price tag. Mixed drinks and wine cost $11. Water cost $6.
“The reason? The New York Financial Writers’ Association, which holds the Follies at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square, could not get anyone to sponsor the $25,000 tab.
“‘I really think it was a sign of the times,’ said Jane Reilly, executive manager for the association, which holds the Follies to raise money for 10 $3,000 scholarships and to pay for the group’s existence.Â
“The loss of funding of the Follies symbolizes the crisis facing not only Wall Street but many media organizations suffering from falling advertising and, in the case of many magazines and newspapers, circulation.”
Read more here.
Marci Alboher, the New York Times “Shifting Careers” column as a freelancer for the past 18 months, has lost that job, according to a report from Peter Kafka at All Things Digital.
Kafka writes, “The Times (NYT) had a round of layoffs/buyouts earlier in the year, but last month Executive Editor Bill Keller told his troops he would try very hard not to cut anyone else. It seems increasingly clear that Keller will struggle to make good on that pledge, given the Timesâ€™s deterioratingÂ financial picture. But since Alboher wasnâ€™t an actual employee, her canning wonâ€™t technically count as a layoff â€“- it just feels like one to her.
“The Times has been ramping up its use of columnist/bloggers over the past year, and has brought most of them on as contract workers. Iâ€™ve asked the paper if it has made other columnist/blogger cuts recently; no response yet. But it hasnâ€™t made cut any other of its columnist/bloggers, says the NYTâ€™s Catherine Mathis.”
Read more here. Alboher wrote about being let go, stating, “The morning I got the call giving me the news, I was shocked. A mere few weeks before, I received a very favorable ‘review’ (inasmuch as a non-employee can be reviewed) and an increase in pay. Many of my articles had hit the most-e-mailed list and generated lively discussion in the comments. I was told my traffic was looking good (though Iâ€™d also been told not to be too concerned about my traffic). People at The Times seemed pleased that television and radio shows were calling regularly to book me for appearances.”
Dale Dougherty writes on BoingBoing his 10 reasons why cable news channel CNN has had trouble covering the current financial crisis.
Here are a few:
1) It’s not a hurricane so Anderson Cooper of CNN is unable to position himself in the middle of the storm for optimal drama. In other words, TV anchors can’t get wet and windblown, while viewers worry about their safety. The state of the economy is a disaster but not a natural disaster. Nobody’s leaving the studio for this one. There’s no place to go.
2) It’s like a war and we keep losing ground each day. In the place of casualties, we have falling stock indices but it’s hard to show the real damage. There’s only so much you can do with oversized charts to tell a story. The war on terrorism featured a real enemy. We’ve just never been able to find them, no matter who goes after them. (Maybe it’s not so different.) Campbell Brown (“No Bull, No Bias”) should say that what the capitalism’s finest did to themselves and to us was worse than any terrorist could have imagined.
3) Few CEOs, fewer economists, and almost no one in the financial industry, want to step forward and say with conviction what will happen. A year ago we couldn’t get them to stop telling us what great things to expect in the next quarter. Not now. They don’t know what’s coming and they aren’t willing to say even that much. They are MIA. Insider information is at an all-time low.
Read more here.
UNC-Chapel Hill journalism professor Chris Roush writes in the latest issue of American Journalism Review that the business media did a strong job in covering the problems in the housing market in the past decade, but few listened to the warnings.
Roush writes, “Here’s the issue that financial journalism faces: No one likes a nattering nabob of negativism, especially when the stock market is climbing and all of our 401(k) plans are tied to it. So we shut out what we don’t want to hear because it conflicts with what we’d like to happen.
“To be sure, the business media haven’t been perfect. Both Fortune and Forbes, for example, sang the praises of Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain in 2008, shortly before the company was forced to sell itself to Bank of America or risk going under. Forbes went so far as to say the financial house was in ‘damn good shape.’ And the personal finance magazines that tout the best stocks and mutual funds can be maddening because they rarely, if ever, outperform the market. Do they really think they â€“ or the so-called experts they’re interviewing â€“ know?
“But anybody who’s been paying attention has seen business journalists waving the red flag for several years. ‘The fact that housing was a bubble was printed millions of times,’ says Allan Sloan, a Fortune columnist and arguably the country’s preeminent business journalist. ‘This is one time that we did what we were supposed to do.’
“Don’t just take the business journalists’ word for it. Their effectiveness in naming the scoundrels is supported by academic research. In 2003, then-Harvard Business School professor Greg Miller studied more than 260 cases of accounting fraud. He determined that nearly a third of them were identified by the business media before the Securities and Exchange Commission or the company said they were targets of investigations.”
Read more here.