Tag Archives: AP

Yet another award for Wall Street Journal backdating series

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The Wall Street Journal reporters who wrote the main stories about the backdating of stock options have won the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting from Harvard University, according to an Associated Press story.

Wall Street JournalThe AP story stated, “The Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University announced on Tuesday that Charles Forelle, James Bandler and Mark Maremont win the $25,000 prize. Their report resulted in the federal investigation of more than 130 companies and the firings of more than 60 business executives.

“‘This story had a huge impact on the business community, and its force is ongoing,’ Alex Jones, director of the Shorenstein Center, said in a statement.

“The other finalists for the prize were a team of Boston Globe reporters who investigated aggressive debt collectors; Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber of The Los Angeles Times for a report on failing transplant operations; Debbie Cenziper of The Miami Herald for uncovering financial mistakes at the Miami-Dade Housing Agency; a team of Seattle Times reporters who reported on hundreds of sealed court files; and a team of Washington Post writers who looked at failures in federal farm subsidy programs.”

Read more here.

The stories are also a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and they won the National Headliner Award and the George K. Polk Award, as well as the inaugural Philip Meyer Award from the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting. See the details of those awards here.

Myrtle Beach paper delays new stock page

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The Myrtle Beach Sun News expected to roll out its new Money & Markets page on Tuesday but was unable to because of technical problems at The Associated Press. The addition will come in the next few days.

Sun NewsA short item in Tuesday’s paper stated, “Please continue to send in the stocks and mutuals you watch. There have been about 500 requests for stocks and about 75 mutuals that will be added over the next few weeks.

“Keep them coming, and we will continue to add them. Please keep in mind that it takes three to four weeks to add them because we get the data from The AP in New York.

“Watch the pages for the next three weeks. If you don’t see your request by then, please call 626-0364 so we can track down what happened and make sure they get in.

“The response has been overwhelming and, in some cases, we received stock symbols that were incorrect. AP and The Sun News corrected them when possible, but some symbols were too far off.”

Read more here.

Did Matt Drudge cause the stock market to drop?

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That’s the quesiton that ABC News contributor Michael Malone is pondering in a Silicon Insider column posted on the network’s web site.

Matt DrudgeMalone points out that former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan gave a speech this past weekend about the inevitability of a recession in this country. His speech wasn’t anything new. In fact, only the Associated Press covered it.

Malone wrote, “Greenspan wasn’t saying anything shocking; on the contrary, he was being his typical prudent and opaque self. You can turn on any cable financial show right now and hear a lot more apocalyptic predictions.

“Indeed, the story was so unthrilling that it appears only AP covered it – and, contrary to its current reputation, actually managed to write a balanced and objective story. And, as you might expect, it produced little more than a shrug from the financial markets.

“But that’s when Drudge stepped in. For no obvious reason, he decided to link to the two day old AP story. He then attached one of his classic scare headlines: ‘Greenspan warns of likely U.S. recession.’ Personally, I love stuff like that – it harkens back to the good old days of newspapering and the vastly underrated age of yellow journalism – and if the viewer chose to read the term ‘imminent’ into Drudge’s words, and then link through to the AP story . . .well, bully for Matt. That’s his job, and he does it better than anybody.”

Read more here. Malone’s conclusion: “Every time a threatened industry has tried to survive by adopting the new paradigm it has failed. The only solution is to come up with an even newer paradigm of your own.

“That’s what Matt Drudge did, and now it seems he can move the entire world economy. When was the last time a New York Times headline did that?”

Outgoing Dow Jones chairman gets $1.6 million in stock

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Dow Jones & Co., the parent of The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Marketwatch, filed an 8-K late Friday that disclosed it was giving outgoing chairman Peter Kann $1.6 million in stock, the Associated Press reported.

Peter KannThe AP story stated that it gave Kann, who was CEO of the company until the beginning of 2006, “42,704 shares of Dow Jones stock under an incentive program.

“Dow Jones announced on Wednesday that its board expects to elect independent director Peter McPherson as the company’s next chairman at its next shareholder meeting in April.

“Kann, who is 64, had previously also served as the company’s chief executive from 1991 until Feb. 1 of last year, when he was succeeded by Richard Zannino. The company had previously announced his plans to retire.”

Read more here. The SEC filing can be read here.

AP biz desk gives guidance on handling SEC's compensation changes

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Below is a memo from the Associated Press business desk on how it plans to handle reporting of executive compensation in the wake of changes made by the SEC in how compensation is reported.

Yes, proxy season is almost upon us. Note at the bottom that the AP is also offering to send its guide on executive compensation to any business desks that asks.

Associated Press“The Associated Press, after consultations with executive pay consulting firms and accounting experts, has developed its own formula for interpreting the expanded disclosures U.S. public companies must make starting this year about what they pay their top executives. Our goal is to be consistent from company to company in how we add up the numbers. But since our total compensation results may differ from what other news organizations report, this advisory is intended to explain to you our methodology and how we arrived at our conclusions.

“Much of what we will use will be found in the newly expanded ‘Summary Compensation Table’ of proxies that companies whose fiscal years end on Dec. 15, 2006, or later, file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But we will NOT be citing the total figure provided in that table. As compensation consultants describe it, that total is roughly equivalent to the company’s total accounting expense for executives’ compensation for the fiscal year. That, of course, is important to shareholders who are always watching how compensation cuts into earnings. But we will not use that total summary figure for AP stories because it doesn’t really tell us what was given to the executive in compensation during the last fiscal year.

“Instead, we will pull from the summary table how much executives made in salary, bonus, incentives and perks. Then we will add any above-market returns the company provided on pay that executives chose to receive later (deferred compensation). Finally, we will pull from another table the value of stock options and awards granted during the last fiscal year. Our executive pay stories will include this sentence or a variation on it: ‘The Associated Press calculations of total pay include executives’ salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year.’

“To calculate whether companies’ provided above-market returns on deferred compensation, we will consult footnotes below the summary table linked to a column called ‘Change in Pension Value and Non-qualified Deferred Compensation.’ This would provide details on any returns the company has locked itself into giving an executive on compensation he or she has set aside. For example, a company that promises a 10 percent or 15 percent compounded rate of return for deferred comp funds it is holding for an executive, when market rates are at 5 percent, is providing something extra that has monetary value. (more…)

Fox's tricks won't work with CNBC

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David Bauder of The Associated Press writes Sunday about the upcoming Fox Business Channel and notes that Fox is using the same tactics it used a decade ago when it launched its news channel to compete against CNN.

CNBCBut trying to define its competition for the audience may not work in business news, some experts he quoted stated.

Bauder wrote, “Like a boxer training before a fight, CNBC has also made several changes in the two years since Mark Hoffman became president. It has added a business newsmagazine, retooled ‘Squawk Box’ and added the popular ‘Fast Money.’

“What worked in politics is not likely to work in business, said Porter Bibb, of Wall Street’s Mediatech Partners and author of a biography on CNN founder Ted Turner released the year after Fox News Channel started.

“Bibb believes CNBC’s advantage will be too much for Fox to overcome. CNBC, which started in 1989, is in more than 90 million of the nation’s 110 million homes; Fox will start this fall in 30 million homes. There’s usually room for only one TV on the desks of business leaders, and it will stay tuned to CNBC, he said.

“In this case, Fox’s criticism of CNBC as anti-business doesn’t make much sense, he said.

“‘You can ask anybody on Wall Street and they will tell you that’s the hollowest threat,’ Bibb said. ‘CNBC is totally user-friendly in terms of business and finance.’”

Read more here.

Pennsylvania paper adds AP's "Money & Markets" page

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The Beaver County Times is changing its stock listings and some other features in its business section, adding the “Money & Markets” page introduced by the Associated Press last year.

Beaver County TimesA short story in the paper stated, “Today, a new Money & Markets page brings analysis and perspective to business news and consumer trends with stories, charts and graphs.

“Local business news will be highlighted in a briefs package.

“Stock tables will be limited to those of select local interest.

“Today, more people track stocks in real time online, where they can get up-to-the-minute information.

“Newspapers, which get but one chance to post stock reports, cannot compete with the Internet, which has the capability of reflecting constant market fluctuations almost instantaneously.

“What newspapers can provide, however, is more detailed analysis and context — what we do best.”

Read more here.

Changes made to Yakima business section

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The Yakima Herald-Republic is making changes to its business section, including dropping its broader stock market listings for the Associated Press’ new “Money & Markets” page, wrote editor Sarah Jenkins in Sunday’s paper.

Yakima Herald-RepublicJenkins said, “Right next to the ‘Money & Markets’ page every day will be a page dedicated to everything from local to regional to national business news.

“The truth is, we already publish a great deal of what can be defined as business news — a new store opening, plans for a residential or commercial development, monthly unemployment statistics and what they mean, listings of business licenses and bankruptcies, business people who are promoted or win awards, information about taxes, new CEOs who take over major companies, how immigration policy affects how many people may be available for work, reports on the minimum wage and how state law may change employer-paid benefits.

“But we haven’t routinely packaged it together in a way that lets you know where to look for it.

“That’s what we’re going to try to do a better job of now.

“That doesn’t mean that business news will all be relegated to a business page; that would just be too simple.

“If a major retailer announces it’s opening a location here, that may very well be front-page news. Same thing if a major employer announces it’s going out of business, or some other important news story about one specific business or businesses in general.”

Read more here.

TheStreet.com's profit doubles

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Business and financial news web site TheStreet.com reported fourth-quarter profits that were more than double the same quarter in 2005, according to an AP story about the earnings.

TheStreet.comThe story stated, “TheStreet.com earned $4 million, or 14 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, up from $1.8 million, or 7 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose 44% to $14.4 million in the latest quarter.

“Analysts polled by Thomson Financial forecast 13 cents per share profit on $14 million revenue.

“TheStreet.com makes money by booking subscriptions to its investment news Web site and running advertisements. The company said it is looking for more ways to deliver advertising revenue by expanding the site.

“In the fourth quarter, Chief Executive Thomas Clarke Jr. said the company boosted ad revenue via ‘more content initiatives such as TheStreet.com TV and TheStreet.com Ratings on our free site.’

“Advertising revenue in the fourth quarter rose 49% to $4.8 million. Subscription revenue rose 36% to $8.8 million.”

Read more here.

Vancouver paper to cut stock listings

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The Columbian, the daily newspaper in Vancouver, Wash., is changing its stock listings later this month, according to Julia Anderson, the paper’s business editor.

The ColumbianAnderson wrote, “Beginning Tuesday, Feb. 20, we’re adding a list of bond offerings and rates. We’re adding a rotating package of stock performance graphics profiling widely held companies. You also will find a package of forward-looking business news briefs and an expanded list of Treasury bill interest rates and U.S. prime rate and Fed Funds rates. Our Nasdaq stocks list will grow to 2,080, while our New York Stock Exchange list holds at 2,000.

“Here’s what’s changing. Mutual fund listings will appear Sundays only. That’s because mutual fund share prices don’t change much day to day. So once a week on Sunday seems appropriate. A short list of 200 stocks on the American Stock Exchange is being dropped to make room for more general business news.

“Our foreign currency exchange rate package will double in size. A list of commodities and prices will be expanded.

“All of this will arrive in an easy-to-read format from our friends at the Associated Press.”

Read more here.