Monthly Archives: August 2010
Allen Wastler, the managing editor of CNBC.com, writes about how many hedge fund operators get nervous when they’re covered by the business news media.
Wastler writes, “A noted hedge-fund manager was giving a speech. Tickets were being given to the public on a first come, first-served basis. We sent a reporter who snagged one of those public tickets and sat in on the speech, along with a couple hundred other people.
“After the event, a PR person ran up to our reporter and declared that the whole event was off the record. Well, retroactive off-the-record declarations don’t go far with us. ‘Off the record’ can mean different things to different people (‘not for attribution’ vs. ‘not used at all’ is the usual confusion). But one thing is clear: It is not a magic incantation that can make statements or actions disappear. It’s an agreement made prior to the exchange of information between journalist and source.
“We did the story. The PR person for the hedge fund guy complained. We stood firm. A couple of blogs and a major business magazine quoted the speech at length a few days later so we weren’t alone in our judgment. Just first. But the idea of giving an off-the-record speech to a couple hundred people from the public is a little weird.”
Read more here.
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Susanne Craig, whose last day at The Wall Street Journal is Tuesday as she will begin working for the New York Times next week, sent a poignant farewell message to her colleagues on Tuesday afternoon. She wrote:
“When I landed at The Wall Street Journal I had coffee with then Deputy Managing Editor Dan Hertzberg. As I sat on his black leather couch in our old offices at 200 Liberty Street, he looked out the window and pointed towards Wall Street. ‘What more can a reporter want,’ he asked me. ‘It is all there — money, power and greed.’
“He was right, and for 10 years I have had the honor of covering Wall Street for this newspaper, chronicling the rise and fall of many executives, and in a few cases the companies they ran into the ground. There have been plenty of stranger-than-fiction stories along the way, about everything from dwarf-tossing parties paid for by Wall Street to the secret path to partnership at Goldman Sachs. But most of all, I have counted myself lucky for the opportunity, largely because it I have been able to work with many of the world’s best reporters and editors. For that, and for the good advice and warm friendship so many of you have offered me, thank you.
“Today is my last day at The Wall Street Journal. I am moving to The New York Times, to try my hand at a new challenge. I will miss everyone here, but am not far away.”
Bloomberg Television has begin a new show called “On the Move with Francine Lacqua” that will cover market openings across Europe and breaking news from Asia.
The show, which will originate from London, is hosted by anchor and senior correspondent Francine Lacqua, who joined Bloomberg in 2000 and has covered numerous high-profile international events for the network including the World Economic Forum and IMF, G20 and OPEC meetings.
“Francine’s unparalleled access to top business and political leaders gives our viewers competitive insight into the markets and the business day ahead,” said Brian Martinez, international managing director, Bloomberg Television, in a statement. “‘On the Move’ will be there for the high level conversations with news makers that impact the economy.”
Lacqua will be joined daily by members of Bloomberg Television’s markets desk team, including reporters Mark Barton, Judith Bogner and Manus Cranny.
Read more here.
Financial news site TheStreet.com announced a deal where it and sister site MainStreet will be providing content to a new site called Bundle.
Bundle is a new money management website funded by Citigroup, Microsoft and Morningstar.
The agreement also provides that TheStreet.com content may be distributed through other online channels owned or controlled by Bundle’s investors and strategic business partners, including the MSN Money website.
“What attracted us to Bundle is their revolutionary user interface, approach to social media and access to unique behavioral consumer data,” said Daryl Otte, CEO of TheStreet.com, in a statement. “We firmly believe, as does Bundle, that personal finance spending and investing recommendations don’t exist in a vacuum. With access to Bundle’s great data tools and approach to social media, and guided by our action-oriented, professionally created content, our readers and Bundle users will have the best possible resources for managing their financial lives.”
Read more here.
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Editor’s note: As part of its five-year anniversary, Talking Biz News will be posting interviews with top business journalists every day this week. Here is the first one.
David Callaway is editor in chief of MarketWatch.com, responsible for the day-to-day coverage from a team of about 100 journalists on three continents. Callaway joined MarketWatch in March 1999 as managing editor and was promoted to executive editor in early 2000. He became editor in chief in March 2003.
Callaway has been a financial journalist for more than 20 years, having reported on everything from the 1987 stock market crash and Wall Street’s insider trading trials of the late 1980s to the introduction of the European single currency and the consolidation of Europe’s banking and securities industries in the mid-1990s.
Callaway came to MarketWatch from Bloomberg News, where he worked for five years, almost all of it in London, as a reporter and team leader covering financial services. Before that he worked for six years as a reporter, and then columnist, for The Boston Herald.
During his time at MarketWatch, Callaway has seen the site sold twice — first to Dow Jones & Co. in 2004 for more than $460 million, and then three years later when all of Dow Jones & Co. was sold to NewsCorp.
In three of the past six years, MarketWatch has been voted the best financial news site with more than 1 million unique users by Editor & Publisher and Media Week magazine in their Eppy Awards.
Callaway spoke with Talking Biz News via e-mail on Monday about MarketWatch and business journalism. What follows is an edited transcript.
What role do you see MarketWatch playing in business journalism?
MarketWatch levels the playing field for active investors by bringing real-time financial journalism to the masses for free. Rapid coverage and breaking news headlines — long the province of only Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones Newswires — have been a staple at MarketWatch since the beginning. No other website offers them, even now. Also, rapid context and commentary, and a big push into international coverage, help position MarketWatch, I believe, to be the first truly global financial news service entirely online.
How does it differentiate its coverage from the other Dow Jones properties such as The Journal and Dow Jones Newswires?
MarketWatch positions its coverage for investors, active investors or those who at least actively track their holdings. The Wall Street Journal positions itself for corporate executives, the CEOs of companies. Newswires promotes itself to professional traders and financial advisers.
You seem to be sharing more content with The Journal and Dow Jones Newswires recently. Is that intentional?
Under News Corp., the integration of Dow Jones properties has speeded up, particularly between the Wall Street Journal and Newswires, which now jointly run certain bureaus. MarketWatch takes a handful of stories each day from its partners, but 95 percent of our news is still developed entirely by staff.
What sets MarketWatch apart from other online business news sites?
Speed and context. As I said before, we are the only site that sends out headlines on breaking news. Not e-mail alerts. Headlines. My guess is others don’t do it because they don’t click through to anything, but they are a favorite part of our site and something we work hard at. We also develop rapid fire context and commentary on breaking news. Our staple of columnists — Mark Hulbert, Peter Brimelow, Irwin Kellner, David Weidner, etc. — is the largest and most talented in the business, I believe.
Who do you see as your biggest competitors, and why?
As an Internet site selling advertising, MarketWatch competes with the other leaders in the sector — Yahoo Finance, CNNMoney, Forbes.com, etc. But none of those sites are primary news providers. As an editorial operation, we hold ourselves up against Reuters, Bloomberg, the Financial Times, and the New York Times — the primary providers of breaking news, scoops, commentary, and investment ideas. WSJ and Newswires are on this list, but now as partners.
How has MarketWatch changed since you joined in 1999 and become editor in 2003?
We’ve expanded significantly, adding bureaus in Chicago, Boston, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Madrid. We will soon have a person in Sydney and in Mumbai. We’ve also built out the type of market stories we do, moving from equities into currencies, fixed-income, derivatives and, of course, hedge fund coverage. We’ve added columnists and extra charts and data, and the acquisition of MarketWatch by Dow Jones in 2005 has helped us invest in the company through redesigns and geographic growth.
What areas would you like to see Marketwatch improve its coverage?
We need to add even more international coverage as the markets for investors are increasingly interconnected and move on overseas events. The Greece debt shock and Dubai shocks last year really drove that home. If you go to MarketWatch at 2 a.m. Eastern time, you’ll see it is popping with breaking news and coverage from Asia. Go to Yahoo! or CNNMoney.com or Forbes.com and you’ll see they are dark. We also need to add more markets coverage — analysis of currency movements and options and bonds, to appeal to an even broader range of investors.
What can Marketwatch do that other business news sites don’t to set it apart?
Because of our large stable of columnists, we have great columns, but we also use the team to bang out real-time commentary. It’s kind of like what BreakingViews does for Reuters now. We also have the headlines, which I mentioned earlier, and a commitment to markets coverage, which most sites just outsource now to Reuters or AP.
MarketWatch seems to be doing a lot more video on its site. What is the thinking behind that?
All of the Dow Jones properties are using more video, as we’ve all invested in developing it into a fully-equal form of story-telling with print, web and audio. We’ve found most readers not only want, but expect, some form of video component on their news sites. Traffic is way up, and video is popular with advertisers. So we’re committed to growing it, as long as we can do it in a way that demonstrates strong journalism and story-telling abilities.
What has been the biggest adjustment for business journalism in the past 20 years?
Like all journalism, it’s been the adjustment to an online world. Business and sports journalism are both particularly suited to online coverage, where rapid news and scores are demanded by readers, along with equally fast analysis and commentary. For business journalism in particular, the biggest adjustment after online has been the globalization of the markets and the impact that’s had on investor portfolios.
A lot of people have criticized business news in the past few years for failing to warn consumers about the economy. What’s your take?
There are always going to be unforeseen events, the so-called Black Swans. But in terms of warning about things like real estate bubbles, bond bubbles, tech stock bubbles, all the warnings were there. It’s just that most of the folks riding those bubbles don’t want to listen, journalists included. Just this past week, we’ve seen plenty of warnings about a bond bubble. It will burst at some point, but in a way nobody expected. Subsequently, someone will turn back and say there were no warnings.
Overall, where could there be improvement in business journalism?
Absolutely, there is always room for improvement. Sourcing guidelines could be better across the board; more focus on what readers and investors want rather than what works in terms of traffic (circulation); a bigger-picture, international focus by editors; and new ways to use the Web and mobile devices to tell stories.
Are you concerned that there are big stories being missed such as the Madoff scandal?
There are clearly other Madoffs out there, and when they burst there will be the predictable hair-pulling, but I’m not concerned. It’s the unpredictability of it that makes it news. There are hundreds of great stories out there right now and business journalism is as competitive as ever, so many of them will see the light of day — hopefully first on MarketWatch.
During that time, there have been massive changes in business journalism, from the sale of The Wall Street Journal/Barron’s/Marketwatch.com/Dow Jones Newswires to the closing of Business 2.0 and the start and closing of Conde Nast Portolio to the shift in coverage dominance in many cities away from daily newspapers, many of whom have cut their standalone business sections, to weekly business newspapers and sites.
Through it all, Talking Biz News has covered the ups and downs, with:
2. 1,871 approved comments, or slightly more than one per day.
The months with the most posts were May 2007 (248) and June 2007 (259), primarily due to the coverage of News Corp.’s takeover of Dow Jones & Co., the parent of The Wall Street Journal, Marketwatch.com, Dow Jones Newswires and Barron’s. Both months saw an average of at least eight posts per day.
The post with the most comments — 59 — remains the one from 2006 reporting that CNBC anchor Ted David was moving to radio. David has a lot of fans.
The post with the most unique visitors is the one from May 2010 about Bloomberg editor in chief Matthew Winkler and his opinions about the quality of Twitter posts from his staffers. It has been read by more than 4,580 unique visitors.
Two posts — one in 2007 and another earlier this year — were removed because of inaccurate information involving the business journalists involved. Talking Biz News apologized in both cases.
The best month in terms of traffic was April 2010, which reported 42,527 unique visitors and 70,999 page views. That’s an average of more than 1,400 visitors per day and more than 2,350 page views per day.
Every month since October 2009 has seen an average of more than 1,000 unique visitors and an average of more than 1,475 page views per day.
“Job changes” and “The Wall Street Journal” are the two most popular subject topic categories, with each averaging almost one post per day in the past five years.
Talking Biz News received a “Best in Business” award in 2009 from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in the small blog competition. It has 425 fans on Facebook and more than 750 followers on Twitter.
Lastly, Talking Biz News is independent. It receives no advertising revenue (the ad revenue it previously generated was donated to SABEW) and is not used to advocate any personal beliefs. Its content is sometimes syndicated on Forbes.com, and its content is syndicated on newsonnews.net and beforeitsnews.com.
Thanks for reading. Your feedback is always welcome.
Ryan Chittum of Columbia Journalism Review believes that the New York Times, with its hiring of respected business journalists Susanne Craig and Peter Lattman from The Wall Street Journal, is winning the war between the two papers.
Chittum writes, “Those two hires are part of a major expansion of DealBook from eight journalists to twenty, which the Journal itself reported in June.
“So not only is the Journal losing some of its best talent, but they’re going to a direct competitor looking to encroach directly on its turf — and one that’s making the smarter moves. While the Journal is pouring resources into non-business coverage, sometimes at the expense of its raison d’etre, the Times and DealBook editor Andrew Ross Sorkin sense an opening and are making their own move. Rupert may yet get outfoxed in this chess match.
“You can place some of this outside the context of the Times battle, too. Lots of big names have been leaving the paper. As one person notes in an email to us, the DC bureau alone has lost Greg Ip, Greg Hitt, Greg Jaffe, Peter Spiegel, Yochi Dreazen, Susan Davis, and Fawn Johnson in the last year or so.
“That’s a lot of great journalists to lose in so short a time — and in one bureau.”
Read more here.
Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson sent out the following announcement on Monday:
“Having mastered the intricacies of life in the Middle East, Andrew Critchlow will now be grappling with one of the world’s most inscrutable cultures, that of Australia. Andy is our new Bureau Chief in Sydney, and will be driving coverage of Australia and New Zealand for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.
“Andy is currently Middle East managing editor of Dow Jones Newswires and the Zawya Dow Jones News Service. In his three years in Dubai with Dow Jones, he has been instrumental in expanding the Middle East service by opening bureaus in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and Doha. One measure of his success is that readership of ZDJ news behind the Zawya.com paywall has quadrupled in three years.
“Before joining Dow Jones, Andy was with Bloomberg as the Gulf OPEC correspondent and deputy bureau chief. He has also served as the senior Gulf correspondent in Dubai for the Middle East Economic Digest.
“Andy has a Masters degree in Middle East politics from Durham University and served four years in the British Army as a Grenadier Guard, seeing active service in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and East Africa. He will report to Sumathi Vaidyanathan, Newswires’ Editor – Operations/Asia-Pacific and Rebecca Blumenstein, the Journal’s Deputy Managing Editor.”
Avent writes, “There is a growing sense of despair among some economic writers that policymakers will not do much more to bolster the flagging global recovery. And critics who note the limits of policy intervention have a bit of a point—not all of the shortfall in demand and employment can be fixed by government intervention. But much of it can be and should be. And if it isn’t, that’s not because we lack the ability to conceive of helpful policies. It’s because policymakers are unwilling to do what they should be doing.
“It’s not the job of the economics journalist to take that as a given and declare that America will have to muddle through. It’s their job to correctly identify the problem, and name the names of those causing it.”
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones replies, “But while columnists certainly have a responsibility to explain political realities to their readers, they have an even stronger responsibility to explain the economic realities as they see them. If they legitimately think there’s nothing more that can be done, fine. But if they don’t, they shouldn’t use politics as a cover for throwing up their hands. The federal government can’t wave a magic wand and make everything OK, but there are still plenty of things left in its armory. We don’t have to accept 8-10% unemployment for the next four years if we don’t want to.”
by Chris Roush
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Here is the text of the message that Forbes managing editor Carl Lavin sent to the staff earlier Monday announcing his departure:
“The news: I am moving on, after three action-packed years as managing editor. I will be here the rest of this week to finish any transition work. I will be available after that to assist with any remaining tasks or questions. Not ready to announce my next adventure quite yet, but when I do, that news will come from: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The message: I am deeply grateful to the Forbes family and to each of you for your innovative work, your dedication, your warm collegiality, and for everything you’ve helped me learn. The newsroom and everything you produce, on and off line, are in very good hands. I salute Lewis and the rest of the new leadership team and I look forward to applauding all of you as the new strategy brings new success.
“The toast to my colleagues: A few folks have suggested that we should have a gathering in September. Details will be available soon. For now, here are just a few samples of what you have collectively accomplished with a spirit that our audience celebrates with us every day:
“Thanks again, Carl”