Monthly Archives: August 2012
by Chris Roush
American City Business Journals is launching online coverage of Chicago business next week after recently hiring former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lewis Lazare as a correspondent in the city.
“Charlotte, N.C.-based American City Business Journals is owned by privately held Advance Publications Inc., which is led by S.I. Newhouse Jr., and also owns magazine publisher Conde Nast.”
by Chris Roush
Nashville Business Journal editor Lance Williams sent out the following announcement to the staff:
I’m happy to announce that we have hired Jamie McGee as our newest reporter.
Jamie, a Nashville native, will primarily cover the tourism and hospitality beat, which also includes music and entertainment, sports business and restaurants. She will also cover the technology industry.
Jamie’s most recent journalism experience was at Bloomberg, where she covered the insurance industry during the depths of the financial crisis. During her last year at Bloomberg, she was largely responsible for coverage of Berkshire Hathaway, which is the company owned by famed investor Warren Buffett.
Prior to that, Jamie was a reporter with The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., where she covered local government issues.
Jamie received her bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of North Carolina, and her Master’s degree from Columbia University.
by Chris Roush
Business Insider’s Julia LaRoche posted a slideshow of Bloomberg Television’s Trish Regan’s economic reporting at the Bloomberg Link headquarters at the Republican National Convention. It’s a behind-the-scenes piece on Bloomberg’s presence along with what it’s like to cover a convention from a business perspective.
La Roche writes: “Bloomberg TV’s Trish Regan, the host of ‘Street Smart’, returned to work just four weeks after giving birth to her third child back in July. Since then, she’s been busy preparing for the political conventions in Tampa and Charlotte as part of Bloomberg TV’s coverage called ‘The Economy Election.’ Regan, who has been in Tampa all this week, took us behind-the-scenes to show us what it’s like covering the Republican National Convention.”
See the entire slideshow here. The picture here shows her with Andrew Morse, the head of Bloomberg Television.
by Chris Roush
Cotton Delo has been named San Francisco bureau chief for Advertising Age, a Crain’s publication.
Michael Learmonth of Ad Age writes, “When I first met Cotton, I was expecting someone male, maybe wearing seersucker, which is why I looked right past the woman sitting in Ad Age’s lobby for an interview a little more than a year ago. Once we got that confusion out of the way, she joined Ad Age as a reporter covering social media, which largely meant Facebook and Twitter, but also a wide range of topics dear to Ad Age, such as media, politics, privacy and startups — including the first forays into business for Foursquare, Pinterest and Tumblr.
“As head of Ad Age’s San Francisco bureau, Cotton will expand her coverage to Bay Area ad agencies, consumer-focused startups, ad tech and venture-capital firms. She will, to put it in old-fashioned journalism terms, ‘follow the money,’ which increasingly flows from the world’s biggest brands to tech platforms such as search, social and video to reach consumers. She’ll also cover the personalities creating change, so expect to see her at meetups, parties and events.
“Prior to Ad age, Cotton was northeast editor for AOL’s lifestyle and culture site, City’s Best. Before that, she joined a nameless, stealth-mode startup that would soon be known as Patch, where she helped launch three sites in her hometown of South Orange, N.J.
“She has been a reporter at The Jersey Journal (along with fellow Ad Age-er Jason Del Rey), covering Hoboken, transportation and writing the “Fix It” column. She speaks Portuguese and taught English in Vitoria, Brazil after earning a B.A. from Yale.”
Read more here.
by Liz Hester
Jeremy W. Peters of the New York Times started an interesting debate with his July 15 story about political campaigns demanding quote approval in exchange for access to top officials – one that caused many journalists to cringe.
You can read the original story here, but its most surprising aspect was its narrow focus. The article talked only about political journalism, but the practice is prevalent in financial journalism as well. There was no mention about how quotes from CEOs, bankers or senior financial executives are also reviewed and altered.
The story also missed a major point — bankers and other financiers don’t need reporters the same way politicians do, giving them more leverage in controlling the message.
One PR executive, who’s worked for both an agency and a large firm, said a slip up in the media could cost millions and pointed out that many clients value a firm’s ability to be discrete. It’s typical to ask to review quotes, and it usually happens.
This leaves a small amount of room for reporters to push back when an interview is “on background, check back quotes.” If a journalist refuses, s/he runs the risk of having no quote at all.
With ever-increasing pressure to beat the competition on deadlines measured in seconds, few organizations can afford to give up access to those at the top or spend large amounts of time negotiating. Often it’s easier to take the terms, get the information and get the story out. But what exactly is compromised when sources are allowed to change quotes?
“Quote approval” nullifies, or at least seriously dilutes, reporters’ ability and duty to be honest brokers of information,” former CBS news anchor Dan Rather wrote in CNN opinion piece. “When the quotes are sanitized, then delivered intact with full attribution, the public has no way of knowing what the concealed deal was.”
Rather, who also called the practice “jaw-dropping,” also pointed out that it was natural for political candidates to want to control the message and said it was up to the reporter to prevent that from happening. But politicians inherently need the media to get their names out or to show voters back home their positions. It’s the rare multi-millionaire who invests with a fund manager because of a Wall Street Journal quote.
In a July 20 broadcast for NPR’s On the Media, Bob Garfield interviewed Edward Wasserman, the Knight Chair of Journalism Ethics at Washington and Lee University, who said the practice made checked quotes no different than a press release. The nearly seven minute piece also included Associated Press Washington bureau chief Sally Buzbee, who said her reporters had a clear idea of the expectations and reporting standards. A spokesman for the organization said the AP wanted “no part of the rinse cycle.”
Bloomberg News sent a memo to select employees clarifying the policies on quotes and saying sending them to others to review is “a surrender of editorial control.” Carol Stark, editor of the Joplin (MO) Globe, wrote an editorial July 29 calling for the practice to stop and pointing out it wasn’t something allowed in her newsroom.
But while many editors are denouncing the practice, it’s still hard for a financial reporter to push back. Getting an on-the-record interview is made even harder when your competition shows sources quotes.
And if you’re just out of j-school and new to your beat covering a small corner of the financial market, good luck. It takes years to build relationships and most importantly, trust. Many in the industry won’t consider taking the risk of putting a banker on-the-record with a cub reporter. It’s hard to build a name and learn the market if you don’t have access to those most important to it.
The closest many financial firms come to the unknown is broadcast. There’s no taking back a live TV interview. Many of the executives are prepped, coached and given talking points, but the voice that comes across is authentically theirs. This was one of the arguments in the NYT’s original piece, that readers aren’t getting the color and personalities when campaigns scrub quotes.
On NPR, Mark Leibovich of the New York Times Magazine said it ultimately came down to a decision of information and access versus journalism best-practices. He admitted to checking quotes on occasion and wished for a blanket policy to hide behind when negotiating with sources.
Obviously, not all reporters check quotes and no news organization sets out to negotiate that type of deal with a source. PR executives are simply doing their jobs, shaping the message as best they can.
The conversation is one that will likely continue as reporters push back on sources and seek more on-the-record interviews or cite newsroom policies. But that conversation needs to include business journalism.
Liz Hester is a writer for Talking Biz 2.
by Adam Levy
Your news organization has enticed you with a tempting boondoggle. Go to Davos, Switzerland, and report on the comings and goings of some of the biggest names in business, politics and entertainment.
Or, perhaps, the destination is Sun Valley, Idaho. Ah. A summer week in Sun Valley during the investment firm Allen & Co.’s annual get together.
The answer is a no brainer: you go. After all, this offer is too tempting to refuse. For starters, there’s the belief that you’ll have unfettered access to the biggest news makers in a secluded locale. And — let’s be real — there are the perks: hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains, mountain biking down the slopes in Sun Valley, skiing in Davos, and cocktail parties, concerts, and more. I should know. I’ve been to both (to be fair, the World Economic Forum I attended was in New York in early 2002 because of the security concerns that followed 9/11).
While I had a blast at both events, I’m not sure there was much if any news value in covering these events. In fact, I think that the news coverage provides the event planners with more free publicity than anything else. But that hasn’t stopped the breathless reporting. As I read the coverage this summer from Sun Valley, I smiled, and thought that the game still is being played to the benefit of the event planners and the lucky reporters.
One headline — actually it was a punctuation mark in the headline — that brought back the memories of covering these events. The Daily Mail, a British daily, previewed Allen & Co.’s summer gala in its the online headline (I don’t get the print edition): “Summer Camp for Moguls!”
What’s it really like to cover Allen & Co.’s mogul summer camp? Well, one year I stayed at the Lodge and in a condo another year. My neighbors were Haim Saban, Buzz Aldrin (he lives there, wasn’t attending the conference. I had drinks in the lobby bar at the same time that Rupert Murdoch and Paul Allen were nursing beverages. I saw Michael Dell have a picnic lunch with his kids. I saw Oprah chatting up Bill Gates for a long time. I took the chair lift up Sun Valley ski resort and rode a mountain bike down. I found an awesome natural hot springs not too far from where Ernest Hemingway took his life. I ate and drank well.
Sure I filed stories. But they weren’t really worth much. Most of Sun Valley was cordoned off as “private.” Lots of ropes, closed doors and security guards. Me and my fellow reporters would hang around, excluded from the presentations, and wait for some luminary to gently break Herb Allen’s dictum of keeping the meetings secret. Here and there, we’d get a crumb. John Malone would tell us a little something about a presentation. Nothing controversial, but it was uttered by an A name quoting another A name. Phil Knight would say the bare minimum – and we’d get a headline.
The meetings weren’t closed to all the press. Some celebrity journalists — Ken Auletta, Tom Friedman, Anderson Cooper, among them — sat in the audience or moderated a panel and honored the code of silence. Of course, my then boss Mike Bloomberg was in attendance as was Rupert and other media barons who owned the television networks, magazines and newspapers that all of us on the other side of the ropes worked for.
The story line was that SOMETHING big was happening, or might happen, and it happens here. After all, Disney’s Michael Eisner and Capital Cities/ABC’s Tom Murphy were in Sun Valley when they cooked up their deal to merge their companies. But that was 1995.
Since then, not much has happened. And Sun Valley has morphed into a business version of Cannes. And the reporters are playing right into. And Allen & Co. is benefitting, grabbing countless breathless headlines touting the importance of the conference, punctuated, even if occasionally, by an exclamation point!
Here’s my thought: what if the media decided not to cover it? What if all the reporters and film crews just didn’t show. That would deflate the self-importance that permeates Sun Valley.
Of course that would also ruin the summer vacation for some journalists!
Levy is a partner in 30 Point Strategies and a former Loeb Award winner as a business journalist for Bloomberg News
by Chris Roush
Reeves writes, “Consider that Neil Cavuto has been on the ball for months when it comes to politics — most glaringly covering primary races while competitors at CNBC were airing infomercials. The crusty newshound in me wants to give a fellow journalist props for that … but the reality is that Fox isn’t just doing this out of altruism. It knows that this is its chance to make a splash with FBN and differentiate it from CNBC.
“‘Yeah, yeah,’ you say. ‘Bottom line is it’s election coverage on a financial news channel. People are watching that on the main Fox News channel or CNN anyway, so stop reading into it.’
“That’s actually the whole point of FBN, in my opinion. It’s about giving a specific viewer a place to get a specific flavor of information.
“Critics say that CNBC is ‘real’ markets coverage and doesn’t do as much softball stuff as Fox — but what they fail to understand is that Fox seems to be courting a more Main Street audience by design. It’s not a lack of skill that makes them pick a seemingly simple issue over a complex one, but what I see as a targeted strategy.
“In short, Fox Business isn’t trying to out-CNBC CNBC. It’s trying to out-Fox CNBC.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Shara Tibken, a Dow Jones Newswires reporter, has resigned effective Sept. 13 for a job at CNET.
Tibken tells Talking Biz News that she will start at CNET on Sept. 18, and that she will still be based in New York.
At Dow Jones, she covers semiconductors, data storage and IBM. At CNET, she will be covering consumer tech news, responding to whatever big news breaks each day with analysis.
Tibken graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa in 2007. After that she had a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund internship at the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. She started at Dow Jones in late 2007 and has been there since. My first job at DJ was covering breaking news. She then covered the stock market for a couple years, watching big movers. She’s been covering tech for two years.
by Chris Roush
Yinka Adegoke, a media business reporter for Reuters for the past six-and-a-half years, is leaving the news service to become deputy editor of Billboard.
In an email to friends, Adegoke wrote, “Thank you for your support and help throughout my time here. It’s been an unbelievable ride since I moved here to New York from London to join Reuters and that ride is now taking me to Billboard as deputy editor.”
Adegoke has worked as Reuters’ senior media correspondent in their New York office covering the media business, breaking major stories and writing in-depth financial analysis on the TV industry, music business, digital media and everything in between.
Before moving to New York he was an editor at New Media Age in London where he covered the early days of the digital media revolution. Adegoke started his career at Music Week in London and has written for publications including Music Business International, The Guardian and The Financial Times.
As Billboard’s deputy editor, Adegoke will be responsible for driving the publication’s business editorial coverage across all platforms, including Billboard magazine, their business site, Billboard.biz, and their industry-leading conferences.
by Liz Hester
The New York Times published a front-page piece on Aug. 13 about credit cards and robo-signing.
Banks got in trouble for improper reviews of foreclosure documents and now it seems that practice extended beyond the mortgage area at some firms. The article by Jessica Silver-Greenberg alleges that companies like American Express and Discover are using false documents, generic testimony and incomplete records to collect debt from delinquent cardholders.
The story cites “interviews with dozens of state judges, regulators and lawyers” saying flaws in credit card records are become more prevalent and that some judges are finding witnesses giving similar testimony in different cases. It includes an interview with Noach Dear, a civil court judge in Brooklyn, saying that about 90 percent of the cases are flawed and can’t prove how much money people actually owe.
What the story doesn’t include is any mention of Jeff Horwitz’s American Banker series about this topic, the first of which ran in January. Horwitz focused his first story on a JPMorgan Chase unit, which stopped collecting certain types of debt. (His stories can be found here, here, here, here and here. They’re all outside the American Banker paywall.)
In the next piece Horwitz looked at a case, which Dear threw out and said had evidence of “robo-testimony” or the same person giving similar testimony in various cases, that wound up in Dear’s courtroom. He points out the case could be a fluke, or could point to early warning signs of robo-signing in other areas. That article talks about “a growing number of judges, state attorneys general, federal agencies, consumer attorneys and academics are concluding that banks may be susceptible to similar claims in other areas of consumer lending, including the credit card market.”
It’s clear that Horwitz was first to the story and deserves credit for his work. Combing through court papers, he found the original JPMorgan Chase case and then continued to follow up on the story in several articles. The Times did add information advancing the story and deserves credit for that, but so does the American Banker for running the first story on the topic.
Obviously, journalism is competitive. Being first on a big story sells papers, gets clicks and causes people to tune in. It also elevates the publication and helps establish both journalist and outlet as part of the conversation. But the courtesy and transparency of letting those readers or viewers know the original source of the information should be upheld. It’s respectful to credit the work of other journalists and gives consumers a way to trace stories back to their original source.
With the rise of bloggers and commentators, being able to find the origin of information becomes even more critical. It helps consumers evaluate for themselves the truth as well as the reporting backing up the story. As more people enter the conversation, being able to talk about the beginning and view original sources makes sure other reporters and consumers can properly evaluate the information.
This isn’t the first time and won’t be the last where a news organization doesn’t credit another outlet with information, but it should be held responsible for the oversight.
Other blogs and news outlets cited Horwitz’s work by name, giving credit where it’s due, shouldn’t others uphold that standard of transparency?