Tag Archives: Blogging

Money Under 30

Blogging and business journalism


Financial blogging is like gambling: You can never predict when it’s going to take off.

But a handful of different strategies — keeping it personal, having a strong social media presence and being consistent — can help propel one financial blog to be more successful than another.

A panel of financial bloggers spoke about creating and finding an audience for their own websites Saturday afternoon as part of this weekend’s Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference at Arizona State University.

In the dry area of financial writing, the ultimate goal is to make the topics approachable for anyone, said David Weliver, the founding editor of MoneyUnder30.com.

His blog, which he said has a six-figure net income, aims to provide financial advice for young people struggling with questions like whether to focus on paying off student loans or starting to invest.

“When I started Money Under 30, I knew it was going to be a blog for young adults by young adults,” said Weliver, who is now 33. “It wasn’t going to be someone with a lot of experience, as I saw a lot of mainstream financial experts, because you get the feeling that they’re your mom and dad scolding you.

“I wanted it to be more of a conversation.”

Jonathan Blum, who created The Digital Skeptic and owns Blumsday, said a successful blog is one that feels personal and connects with readers.

“You can tell remarkable stories if you’re willing to really produce the output and focus in on very particular topics,” he said. “And then you really have to be a human being. It’s really about being alive. You’ve got to be there for these readers.”

In the midst of running the different aspects of the blog, journalists need to remember not to neglect their writing — their area of expertise — said Will Chen, co-founder of Wise Bread. His site, which averages more than 2.25 million monthly page views, is the largest independently owned personal finance blog.

“The true value you as journalists bring to the table is you are expert curators of information, and that’s valuable to people,” he said, adding that it’s worthwhile to hire other people to focus on administration or advertising.

But even when everything is done right, there’s still some magic involved in creating a blog that succeeds, Weliver said.

“You’ve still gotta hit the jackpot to create an idea that really takes off.”

Megan Cassella is a UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication student attending the SABEW conference on a Talking Biz News scholarship.

Seeking Alpha

Seeking Alpha editor: We did not disclose anonymous source


Eli Hoffmann, senior vice president and editor in chief of Seeking Alpha, writes about the resolution of its case with Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn, who wanted the financial site to disclose the name of an anonymous writer who disclosed one of Einhorn’s investments.

Hoffmann writes, “We were about to file our opposition to this petition, but Greenlight dropped the suit of its own accord. We did not at any time disclose the author’s identity formally or informally, and at no time were our actions dictated by reaching any sort of deal with Greenlight.

“So why did they drop the case? It seems they were able to contact the author, who convinced Greenlight that he had built his thesis by joining the dots on publicly-available information.

“We’re pleased this has ended. But given the appropriate opportunity, we will defend our position when challenged. This is not the first demand we have had to disclose pseudonymous authors’ identities; we have yet to disclose author identity in any claim submitted to court.

“Platforms such as Seeking Alpha are protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides immunity from liability for providers and users of an ‘interactive computer service’ who publish information provided by others. This doesn’t stop attempts to file pre-action motions to try and get to specific posters, but so far our experience has been that the claims get shut down or withdrawn.”

Read more here. Einhorn has posted in the comments section that the statement “who convinced Greenlight that he had built his thesis by joining the dots on publicly-available information” is materially incorrect.


Anonymous sources, Trish Regan and business journalism


Felix Salmon of Reuters writes Monday about Bloomberg Television’s Trish Regan and her interview with Seeking Alpha CEO David Siegel where she was critical of his company’s refusal to disclose the name of an anonymous writer who had disclosed an investment by hedge fund manager David Einhorn.

Salmon writes, “Let’s say that the blogger in question had phoned up Regan and told her (off the record, but with Regan knowing her source’s identity) that Einhorn was buying up shares of Micron Technology. That might have turned into a nice little scoop for Regan, if she had confirmed it with other sources — all of whom would themselves surely have insisted on anonymity as well.

‘If Regan had published that story, Einhorn would surely have been annoyed, since he was taking great care to accumulate his stake in Micron as quietly as possible. But here’s the thing: Einhorn would never have dared take Regan and Bloomberg to court, trying to force them to reveal her sources. If a journalistic organization finds out a true fact and publishes it, that might inconvenience a hedge-fund manager, but it’s not going to result in a court case.

“In the Micron case, however, Einhorn saw an outlet which was small enough to bully. If he wins, as Sorkin says, ‘the case could have a chilling effect on the free flow of information to traditional news outlets’ — it would damage not only Seeking Alpha and its pseudonymous blogger, but also Trish Regan and all other journalists with confidential sources. Einhorn wants to be able to keep his own information confidential; he just doesn’t want Seeking Alpha to have a similar right.

“If anybody deserves a lecture on journalism in this case, then, it’s not Siegel, it’s Einhorn. Meanwhile, Siegel is faced with a very hard decision. Einhorn is not the kind of person to back down from a fight: he has essentially bottomless resources, and will happily spend millions of dollars on lawyers just to make Seeking Alpha’s life miserable and expensive for the foreseeable future. Big media organizations are set up to fight such threats; smaller startups aren’t.”

Read more here.


A hedge fund goes after a blogger


Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times writes about hedge fund manager David Einhorn’s attempts to find out the name of a Seeking Alpha blogger who disclosed one of his investments.

Sorkin writes, “The case could be a watershed for both the reporting of financial news using anonymous sources, and perhaps more important, the increasing trend of confidential information being posted anonymously on social media like Twitter and the comment sections of established news websites.

“Leaks to the media are a well-worn tradition on Wall Street. Yet rarely do firms go after the leakers — or the media outlets that published the leaked information — in court. It is not necessarily a criminal violation to leak confidential information, but it may be a civil violation if an individual breached a fiduciary duty or breached a specific agreement to keep certain information private.

“Journalists have traditionally been protected by state shield laws or other court protections that allow them to publish confidential information without disclosing the identity of their sources. Even when courts do get involved, many journalists are willing to go to jail rather than comply with judges’ orders.

“But what happens when the source of the information bypasses journalists or news organizations and goes directly to the public through an anonymous blog or social media? Are those individuals protected by a journalistic privilege? What if their motives go beyond mere reporting? And are courts willing to appear to limit freedom of speech rights to intervene in what is largely a commercial matter?”

Read more here.


Covering the cybersecurity beat


Nicole Perlroth of The New York Times profiles Brian Krebs, a former Washington Post tech reporter whose Krebs on Security blog is the leader in covering cybersecurity.

Perlroth writes, “Mr. Krebs, 41, tries to write pieces that cannot be found elsewhere. His widely read cybersecurity blog, Krebs on Security, covers a particularly dark corner of the Internet: profit-seeking cybercriminals, many based in Eastern Europe, who make billions off pharmaceutical sales, malware, spam, frauds and heists like the recent ones that Mr. Krebs was first to uncover at Adobe, Target and Neiman Marcus.

“He covers this niche with much the same tenacity of his subjects, earning him their respect and occasional ire.

“Mr. Krebs — a former reporter at The Washington Post who taught himself to read Russian while jogging on his treadmill and who blogs with a 12-gauge shotgun by his side — is so entrenched in the digital underground that he is on a first-name basis with some of Russia’s major cybercriminals. Many call him regularly, leak him documents about their rivals, and try to bribe and threaten him to keep their names and dealings off his blog.

“His clean-cut looks and plain-speaking demeanor seem more appropriate for a real-estate broker than a man who spends most of his waking hours studying the Internet’s underbelly. But few have done more to shed light on the digital underground than Mr. Krebs.”

Read more here.


How financial bloggers provide help to investors


Barry Ritholtz of Bloomberg View writes about why financial bloggers are a positive force in providing information to investors.

Ritholtz writes, “Go back in time a decade or so, and we all got our financial news from only a handful of sources. The mainstream papers and magazines dutifully reported what companies said, government agencies reported and what markets did. Blogging has added a level of skepticism to the media diet. There is a willingness to call out nonsense that quite bluntly, deserves to be called nonsense. Not that it didn’t happen before bloggers were willing to do it — but it happens much more quickly and with more depth than pre-blogging days.

“During the run up to the financial crisis, it was not the big press outlets, but rather the blogging community, that most urgently identified housing, sub-prime and derivatives as a huge problem. Much of the MSM — the blogger acronym for Mainstream Media — missed it

“2. Created a meritocracy: The readership of a blog is a function of the quality of its author’s thought process and writing skills. You cannot ‘buy’ your way into page views. Sure, there are search-engine optimization and clickbait and content farms, but they are obvious to most observers. Currently, there are hundreds of investing, technology, economics and stock-picking sites out there that have risen to prominence through the sheer strength of their authors’ ideas (You can see my list here). The impact of so many thoughtful individuals into the grand market debate has been a net positive for all involved, with perhaps an exception being plummeting cable ratings for financial (and other) specialty television.”

Read more here.


Reuters launches Equals blog


The Reuters financial news service has launched a blog called Equals that focuses on  gender equality and the role women play in the economy.

In a post on the blog, journalist Shane Ferro writes:

We’ll be tackling subjects like education, workplace performance, competitiveness, pay, and leadership. The topics will encompass virtually any subject that relates to gender differences in economics, finance, and management. The blog will lean heavily on data and new research, as well as the smart voices around the web already contributing to the discussion.

In an email, Ferro added:

Quite simply, there is a lot out there on this subject that deserves more coverage. I am particularly interested in the huge trove of academic, government, and private research dedicated to the gender gaps in education, pay, employment, and management. However, it falls between quite a few different coverage areas, so sometimes it gets its due and other times it slips through the cracks. Personally there was a lot that I wanted to pitch for our current economics and business blog, Counterparties, but I felt that it was just tangential enough that it didn’t fit. So, we decided to create a whole new blog.

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback since we launched yesterday, which makes me even more excited to move forward. I’ll be doing much of the posting at the beginning, but expect to see a variety of bylines as it gets up and running.


The new Valleywag has been a disappointment


Farhad Manjoo of Slate writes that he has been disappointed with what he has seen in the new Valleywag tech news site.

Manjoo writes, “I was excited when I heard, earlier this year, that Gawker Media was resurrecting Valleywag, which it founded in 2005 and later shut down. Valleywag is necessary. The tech industry is a hype-fueled wonderland of money and ambition, a place as central to the world economy as Wall Street, and one whose globe-changing ambitions are often ridiculous. When I heard Biddle would be running the site, I was even more thrilled. A longtime Gawker Media writer, Biddle worked for Gizmodo for many years, and even when I disagree with him, I find him to be a lively, hilarious writer and a dogged reporter.

“But in the few months it’s been online, the new Valleywag has been a disappointment. Too often, it squanders its resources by shooting designer fish in a gold-plated barrel, rather than taking on more important problems in technology and the tech industry. In a profile of the site in the New York Times by Nick Bilton on Sunday, the writer Paul Carr—a frequent target of Valleywag—summed up its failings this way: “Valleywag’s mission was to expose criminality, hypocrisy and corruption, but it isn’t doing any of that. … Instead you have a guy in New York pointing to Silicon Valley from thousands of miles away saying: ‘Look at that rich guy. Isn’t he rich? That rich guy is a loser.’ ”

“A stroll through Valleywag’s archives bolsters this assessment. Here’s one rich guy having the sort of expensive wedding you’d expect a rich person to have. Here’s another rich guy who paid to have his daughter meet Miley Cyrus. Here are rich techies paying for boat rides to avoid a transportation strike, and here’s a company hoping rich people will pay for laundry service. Rich techies are especially vulnerable to a Valleywag attack when they engage in that favorite rich-person pastime of giving away their money. Whether they donate to charity auctions, go on African charity expeditions, or try to teach homeless people computer programming, rich techies are ridiculed for what’s taken to be their obvious insincerity, naïveté, and clear efforts at self-aggrandizement.”

Read more here.

All Things D

All Things D nearing split with Dow Jones & Co.


J.P. Mangalindan and Dan Primack of Fortune are reporting that tech news site All Things D could soon be leaving the Dow Jones & Co. family of financial news products.

Mangalindan and Primack write, “Since then, Fortune has learned that AllThingsD is working with investment bank Code Advisors to find outside investors at an enterprise value that could exceed the $25 million that AOL reportedly paid in 2010 for rival site TechCrunch. One source says that the asking price is between $10 million and $15 million for a 25% or 30% stake in the company.

“Swisher and Mossberg appear to be steering clear of traditional venture capitalists and tech billionaires, likely in order to minimize potential conflicts of interest. Instead, their focus has been on finding a partner from the media sector.

“So far they have received proposals from three media companies, one of which is said to be NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. A fourth is circling, and it is possible that the final transaction could include multiple parties.

“Other companies said to have been approached include Bloomberg, Condé Nast, and The Washington Post Company.

“‘It’s not complex,’ Swisher told Fortune in a statement. ‘Walt and I are interested in taking the online journalism and conference efforts we have been successful at building over the last 12 years and expanding them. There are lots of ways to do that, and we are thinking about the best way to evolve what we believe is an even bigger opportunity in the years ahead.’”

Read more here.

Sam Biddle

A blogger takes aim at Silicon Valley


Nick Bilton of the New York Times writes about Sam Biddle, who is overseeing a revived Valleywag website that covers Silicon Valley with a large dose of snark.

Bilton writes, “Mr. Biddle has another favorite target: other writers who cover the tech industry.

“He has gone to great lengths to ruffle Sarah Lacy, a former writer for Businessweek and editor at TechCrunch who is the founder of a technology blog called PandoDaily that — in Mr. Biddle’s estimation — does the bidding of the industry it covers. He called Ms. Lacy a ‘free-market monster’ after she wrote a post criticizing a strike by local transit workers; he taunted her for defending the tech industry, and he chided her for becoming part of the stories she covers, considered improper for traditional journalists.

“Ms. Lacy says those criticisms are nonsense. Not surprisingly, she doesn’t think much of what Mr. Biddle is doing. ‘If Gawker thinks the Valley press isn’t uncovering stories, then go do it, because so far I haven’t seen it from Valleywag,’ Ms. Lacy said.

“Ms. Lacy and others question how Mr. Biddle can accurately report on Silicon Valley while he is based in New York. It’s a common complaint: that Mr. Biddle knows little about the industry he enjoys mocking. And they say he hardly practices the high values of journalism that he preaches. ‘Not calling people before you write about them is not noble,’ Ms. Lacy said.”

Read more here.