Monthly Archives: October 2009
CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer was at the University of Oklahoma on Friday for a taping, and Don Mecoy of The Oklahoman talked to him about his show.
Mecoy writes, “‘Iâ€™m an entertainer about business â€” a business entertainer,’ he said a few hours before taping his show while at OU. ‘Iâ€™m a televangelist for money. I do a one-man sports show about business.’
“When asked about his regrets, Cramer immediately recalls some bad recent market calls.
“‘I try to do a good show every night, but Iâ€™m very critical of myself,’ he said.
“He believes he was humiliated during a confrontational appearance on ‘The Daily Show With Jon Stewart‘ but is proud that he maintained his composure â€” and that his spot produced a bump in ‘Mad Money’ ratings.
“‘(Stewart) apologized to me immediately after the cameras went off,’ he said. Cramer said he would appear on the show again only if Stewart would make his apology public.”
New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera, who wrote his last column for the paper Saturday until next year because of a book leave, blogs about the importance of business journalism during crisis situations.
Nocera writes, “As for my column this week, itâ€™s a bit of a grab bag, a brief look at four different topics that I never got around to developing as full-fledged columns, though they were all worthy subjects. Had I had room for a fifth topic, I would have made remarked on the splendid article on the Bloomberg wire earlier this week about decision by the New York Federal Reserve to pay the A.I.G. counterparties 100 cents on the dollar. (You can read it here, as well as a follow-up in The Washington Post here.)
“The stories are a good reminder about how important the business media has become during and after this crisis. In the 1930s, most of the revelations that led to serious financial reform came out of the Pecora Commission, which conducted a two-year investigation into Wall Streetâ€™s shady practices. This time, there is no Pecora Commission, and Congress has been so busy railing at, among other things, Wall Street bonuses that it canâ€™t seem to find the time to do the kind of serious investigation that desperately needs to be done. Thank goodness the media is still robust enough to take on that role. But with its financial decline â€” just this week The Wall Street Journal closed down its legendary Boston bureau â€” one wonders how long that will be the case.
“As I note in my column, I am about to take a lengthy leave to write a book about the financial crisis. I donâ€™t expect to be writing columns during that time, and though I may continue to blog, it will be on a highly irregular basis. Iâ€™ll be back as soon as I write ‘The End’ â€” in the spring at the latest. Wish me luck.”
Read more here.
Hartford Business Journal editor John Ferraro plans to leave the publication after less than a year for a job with an online community news organization owned by America Online, writes Eric Gershon of the Hartford Courant.
Gershon writes, “Ferraro, an editor at The Courant before joining the Business Journal in March, said he will become editor of Patch.com’s Connecticut community news websites. Patch.com currently operates four sites in the state, all in Fairfield County, and plans to add others, he said.
“The AOL unit, which has executive offices in New York, also operates local news websites in New York state and New Jersey. Ferraro will work from home in Connecticut.
“‘I just had this opportunity come up and I thought it was too good to pass up,’ he said.”
Read more here. Diane Weaver Dunne, the managing editor, will become the interim editor.
Bloomberg editor in chief Matthew Winkler interviewed with ContentSutra.org, an Indian media site, about the company’s plans in India, but he also discussed plans for BusinessWeek magazine, which the company is acquiring.
Here is an excerpt:
What is your editorial vision for BusinessWeek, which Bloomberg recently acquired? How do you plan to integrate the two operations and offerings and when does this process begin?
BusinessWeek is a unique platform in global media that has had an exceptional history of path breaking business reporting around the world. We are fortunate to have been given the opportunity to combine Bloomberg and BusinessWeek. We are going to share a great deal of BusinessWeek content on Bloomberg and Bloomberg Media. We also value the journalistic values the magazine brings, which are entirely compatible with our own values. Importantly, there isnâ€™t a great deal of overlap between the two (Bloomberg and BW).
BusinessWeek is a terrific consumer media platform in journalism and combining that with Bloomberg platforms that are professional, would be a wonderful step forward forward for this company.
Read more here.
Fox Business Network‘s John Stossel defended his appearances at rallies in Arkansas against the Obama administration’s proposed reform of the country’s health care system, writes Andrew DeMillo of the Associated Press.
DeMillo writes, “Stossel said he made three speeches for the group in August, when he still worked for ABC. Stossel said he’s on Fox as a commentator, not a straight news reporter.
“When Stossel joined Fox, the network said he would host a weekly program on Fox Business that would feature ‘in-depth reports on domestic and international libertarian issues,’ as well as make regular appearance on the Fox News Channel and host a series of one-hour specials for the network.
‘If John Stossel’s role as a journalist includes traditional straight reporting, then it’s reasonable to question whether he can do that reporting with any degree of independence or credibility,’ said Bob Steele, a DePauw University journalism professor and scholar for journalism values at the Poynter Institute.
“Stossel said his comments at the forums aren’t different from his criticism of businesses when he was a consumer affairs reporter.”
Read more here.
Lowry writes, “Fox, 44, informed colleagues of his decision in a staff memo Friday afternoon, less than three weeks after McGraw-Hill announced it had reached an agreement to sell BusinessWeek to Bloomberg LP.
â€œ’I am proud that I played a role in ensuring that BusinessWeek has a new home at Bloomberg, where it will thrive under the leadership of Norman Pearlstine,’ Fox told staffers (see full memo below). ‘I am committed to the transition and helping in any way that I can.’ A veteran of McGraw-Hill, Fox did not specify the new role he will play at the company. He said he will take on new responsibilities in 2010, after assisting the BusinessWeek team with the transition to Bloomberg. The sale is expected to close in early December.
“Foxâ€™s resignation from his post follows a similar announcement from BusinessWeek editor-in-chief Stephen J. Adler, who told staff on Oct. 22 that he was stepping down. ‘Keith has been an extraordinary leader in the most difficult of times. He built a stellar business team, created a culture that combined high performance with exceptional collegiality, and won the respect and affection of the entire staff,’ Adler said of Fox on Friday. ‘To me, he was the ideal collaborator and the most generous of colleagues.’”
Read more here.
Kelly writes, “The News and Finance Group, which includes Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Fortune Small Business and Money, is expected to be the hardest-hit part of the company. The unit will have a small reprieve: under a contract with the Newspaper Guild the company will first have to seek buyout volunteers.
“The London-based IPC Group and the Birmingham, Ala.-based Southern Progress, whose flagship title is Southern Living, escaped major hits in the round of layoffs unveiled in the fourth quarter of last year. The division, headed by Executive Vice President Sylvia Auton, will not be so lucky this time around, sources predicted.
“The scale of the layoffs means Time Inc. holds the distinction of the biggest mass firing in publishing this year, outpacing the 460-plus involuntary terminations at rival CondÃ© Nast.”
Read more here.
Johnny Diaz of the Boston Globe takes a closer look Friday at The Wall Street Journal‘s closing of its Boston bureau.
Diaz writes, “The closing surprised media analysts, who say the Journal needs a base in the heart of New England. ‘This is an area that is alive with business news and readers,’ said Lou Ureneck, chairman of Boston Universityâ€™s journalism department.
“The Boston bureau, which is at least 100 years old, has won two Pulitzer Prizes in the past five years: one in 2004 for a series on how university admissions favored children of alumni and wealthy donors and another in 2007 for an investigation of the abuse of backdated stock options for business executives.
“Roy Harris, a former 23-year Journal reporter, wrote ‘Pulitzerâ€™s Gold,’ a 2008 book that focused on the bureauâ€™s prize-winning investigation. ‘To lose a bureau in a critical area like Boston is going to be costly for the Journal and Journal readers,’ said Harris, a Hingham resident.
“The investigative team of two Boston employees will remain here, officials said. Coverage of the Boston mutual fund industry will move to the New York-based Money and Investing team and the Journal will create an enhanced New York-based education team.”
Read more here.
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
American City Business Journals CEO Whitney Shaw became the head of the parent company of 40 weekly business newspapers across the country earlier this year after the unexpected death of his father, Ray Shaw.
Shaw was previously a senior vice president of the company and president of its sports publishing division.
He’s now overseeing one of the largest employers of business journalists in the country at a time when the industry is retrenching. Many daily newspapers have cut their standalone business sections, and ACBJ’s weekly newspapers have hired away staff members from those dailies, particularly high-profile business journalists in Seattle and Atlanta.
Shaw talked via e-mail with Talking Biz News about the state of the privately held company, part of the Newhouse media empire, and business journalism. What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation.
Given the overall state of the journalism business these days, how is ACBJ faring?
Maybe the best way to describe this year is to say that if daily newspapers have pneumonia (or worse), ACBJ has a cold. We havenâ€™t escaped unscathed, but weâ€™re still fundamentally very healthy. Weâ€™ve always kept staffing lean, weâ€™ve never owned printing presses, we have no debt, weâ€™ve never borrowed to finance an acquisition, we donâ€™t have expensive retiree pensions — these things separate us from companies in all industries that seem to be dominating the headlines with day after day of discouraging news.
That said, thereâ€™s no question that this is the most challenging economic environment in the lifetime of virtually every corporate executive in America — it makes previous recessions and the dot com bust look minor league. This has been painful and, frankly, Iâ€™m not sure the recovery has started nationally. I think the first quarter of 2010 will continue to be soft.
Since ACBJ is a private company, we donâ€™t release financial information. I can say that while advertising revenue is off from a year ago, itâ€™s nowhere near the decline that the publicly owned daily newspapers have reported and continue to report. And our paid circulation will once again grow in 2009, as it has for several years. Few, if any, other publishers can say that.
Because weâ€™re so tied to the small and medium-sized business market, weâ€™re often the first into a recession and the first out. Weâ€™re obviously hoping that continues. Looking back, we can see where things started to slow in late 2007. That would put the start of this recession much earlier than many originally thought, though Iâ€™ve recently seen some reports pointing out something similar.
In the markets where ACBJ is going well, what are the reasons?
With 40 business journals, there are probably 40-plus reasons one does better than another. Some of our business journals are doing significantly better than their counterparts, but thereâ€™s not a single overarching reason I can point to. It could be the strength of the publisher and his or her ad director. It could be the depth of the relationship with clients.
It could be a function of what categories of advertising are strongest in a specific market -â€“ a market that relied heavily on commercial real estate advertising has been affected more than one with a diverse roster of advertisers. Sometimes, itâ€™s just a question of how nimble our ad staffs can be; if they got a heavy dose of advertising from big banks in years past, have they been able to show local banks how to grab market share in this environment?
Weâ€™ve never sold advertising based on cost-per-thousand. Weâ€™ve preached the value of who we reach, not how many. Thatâ€™s been the same year after year after year. As a result, weâ€™ve long told advertisers that business journals are an efficient and targeted medium. That argument resonates even louder when dollars are tight.
Geographic diversity has also been a significant benefit for us. Itâ€™s probably even more important now â€“- although no area of the country has missed this recession, some places have been hit harder than others. For every market where there tends to be a bigger spread between the great years and the slower years, we have markets like Louisville, Columbus and Milwaukee that turn in 5 percent, 6 percent growth year after year. It helps to have a mix of high-flyers and steady performers.
Are you seeing a trend where the better performing ACBJ markets are where the daily papers have downsized their business news coverage?
I donâ€™t think weâ€™ve ever looked to see if thereâ€™s a correlation. My guess would be that in cities where the daily has pulled back on its business coverage, the initial benefit we would get is added online and digital traffic. Once that online visitor becomes familiar with us, we have a better chance of getting someone to subscribe to the business journal.
Frankly, it seems odd â€“- even counter-intuitive -â€“ for dailies to be cutting coverage of business and economic news right now. This is the time that people need accurate and reliable business coverage more than ever â€“- itâ€™s not something that should be left to â€œcitizen journalists.â€ The need for accurate, in-depth business coverage benefits us significantly.
With the recent release of daily newspaper circulation statements by the Audit Bureau of Circulation, we had an opportunity to look at our numbers versus theirs. In the markets in which we have a business journal and there is also a dominant daily, those dailies saw circulation drop 13.2 percent in the 12 months from June 2008 to June 2009. In the same period, our business journal circulation dropped 0.67 percent. That spread of almost 14 points is the largest weâ€™ve ever seen. We still expect our circulation to grow about 3 percent for calendar 2009.
How have some of your non-print products held up, such as event that the papers hold in their markets?
Events are still a significant business for us, and one that has held up very nicely. In a lot of ways, events are the original social medium â€“- we put people together face-to-face with their peers. Attendance continues on pace with previous years, and weâ€™re seeing more interest, I think, from sponsors who are looking to connect in a hands-on way with potential clients and customers. And frankly, a number of our markets are getting smarter about the ways they sell sponsorships. In previous years, if an event had two or three sponsors, we might have added another this year. The dollars tied to sponsorships are holding up well.
Not surprisingly, weâ€™re seeing more attendees use our events to find new employment opportunities. To facilitate that and to get people talking, in some markets weâ€™ve taken an idea from college fraternities and started holding â€œmixersâ€ â€“- an informal opportunity for people to meet and talk. And yes, we sell sponsorships to the mixers.
The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced Thursday it will present this yearâ€™s Lifetime Achievement Award in Business & Financial Reporting to Paul Kangas, anchor and financial commentator for PBSâ€™ Nightly Business Report, and Linda Oâ€™Bryon, the founder of the pioneering business news broadcast and now chief content officer of Northern California Public Broadcasting.
The awards will be presented at the Fifth Annual Emmy Awards for Business & Financial Reporting, to be held Monday, Dec. 7 at Fordham University in New York City.
“As televisionâ€™s first daily broadcast devoted to economic news, Nightly Business Report broke new ground when it launched over 30 years ago” said Bill Small, chairman of the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, in a statement. “Linda O’Bryon led a small group to create the show, and under her stewardship it became one of the most influential business news broadcasts on television.
“Longtime anchor and financial commentator Paul Kangas was also present at the creation, and his deep knowledge of the financial markets and skill in the anchor chair has been equally responsible for the show’s success. We are proud to honor them both with this yearâ€™s Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Kangas was a South Florida stock broker when he joined Nightly Business Report as a stock commentator in 1979. In 1990 he became the showâ€™s co-anchor. Kangas has reported on all of the major financial events of the last three decades, from market bubbles to bull runs to bear runs to financial scandals.
Oâ€™Bryon spearheaded the creation of Nightly Business Report in 1979, when she was serving as news director at South Florida public television station WPBT. NBR was televisionâ€™s first nightly business news program, and under Oâ€™Bryonâ€™s stewardship became the most-watched evening business news program, distributed nationally by PBS on more than 250 stations. When NBR was launched she both managed the program and served as its co-anchor.
“At a time when credible business journalism is more critical than ever, PBS is very proud to serve as the home of Nightly Business Report,â€ said Paula A. Kerger, PBS’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Paul Kangas and Linda O’Bryon have been instrumental in shaping the program during its 30-year history, setting high standards that distinguish ‘NBR’ from all its commercial competitors. This high honor is well deserved.”
“One of the things I most admire about Linda and Paul is the integrity that they brought to this program,” added Rodney Ward, executive editor and senior vice president of Nightly Business Report, in a statement. “Fair and balanced really meant something to them as they approached our subject matter. They were not afraid to ask tough questions. They were not afraid to challenge assumptions or long held views. They did not fawn over CEOs or politicians. They were not cheerleaders. They did not seek to become a part of the game. Their only goal was to report the news and to inform the viewer to the best of their ability.”