Tag Archives: Blogging

TechCrunch, site that covers tech news, to be sold to AOL

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Om Malik of GigaOm is reporting that the TechCrunch site that covers the technology world is about to be sold to AOL, which has a number of business-related sites, including DailyFinance.com.

Malik writes, “The deal is at a sensitive stage and might fall apart yet, but I don’t think so. Sources familiar with both entities says that the announcement is likely to come onstage at Disrupt, TechCrunch’s flagship conference currently underway in San Francisco.

“AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is likely to make an appearance at the conference, and perhaps that’s when the announcement is likely to be made. Michael Arrington was unreachable for comment, and AOL has not returned my calls. I still don’t know the terms of the deal, and will update the post accordingly.

“AOL in the past had acquired Weblogs Inc., the blogging company behind popular sites such as Engadget. Those blogs have helped AOL compensate for steep loss of traffic. The service has been in the market to buy a technology blog, and is rumored to have been linked with other technology blogs.”

Read more here.

The blogging strategy at Forbes includes selling them to companies

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Michael Learmonth of Advertising Age writes Sunday about a previously unreported part of the Forbes overhaul — selling blog space to corporations under the Forbes brand.

Learmonth writes, “The pitch is this: We’ll sell you a blog, and your content will live alongside that of Forbes’ journalists and bloggers. This isn’t the’sponsored post’ of yore; rather, it is ‘giving advocacy groups or corporations such as Ford or Pfizer the same voice and same distribution tools as Forbes staffers, not to mention the Forbes brand.

“‘In this case the marketer or advertiser is part of the Forbes environment, the news environment,’ Mr. DVorkin said in an interview at an empty restaurant across Fifth Avenue from the historic headquarters of the 93-year-old magazine.

“The product itself is called AdVoice, and the notion is that in a world of social media, corporations have to become participants and, in a sense, their own media companies. Corporations these days also have to face the practical problem of fewer business reporters left to pitch. ‘There’s fewer ways to get your message out, because there are fewer reporters, and that’s a fact,’ he said.”

Read more here.

Bloomberg Markets editor Henkoff talks about its changes

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TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

The November issue of Bloomberg Markets, which goes on sale Oct. 1, will unveil a number of changes in the magazine.

There are new editorial sections devoted to personal wealth and careers. The rate base is jumping from 315,000 to 355,000. A new global distributor is in place to make sure it gets to readers in Europe on time. And a new ad campaign noting that the magazine is for the “global financial elite” will launch as well.

These changes are on top of a cover price increase to $5.99 in May from the previous $4.95 and a 22 percent increase in ad pages through the October issue.

Ronald Henkoff is the editor of Bloomberg Markets magazine. The awards won by reporters Henkoff has managed include Gerald Loeb, Overseas Press Club, George Polk, Sidney Hillman, Deadline Club, IRE and Foreign Press Association. Henkoff has won the Minard Award from the Loeb Foundation.

Before joining Bloomberg in 1998, Henkoff was Fortune’s Chicago bureau chief and a member of its board of editors. Prior to that, he was a correspondent for Newsweek in New York, Houston and London, where he also served as European economics editor. Henkoff holds a B.A. cum laude from Carleton College, an M.S. in journalism from Columbia and an M.A. in history from the London School of Economics.

Henkoff talked by phone Monday with Talking Biz News. What follows is an edited transcript.

Why is Bloomberg Markets making these changes now?

From an editorial perspective, we’ve looked at we’ve been doing over the past decade, and the magazine has really evolved. When I got here, it was primarily a magazine to show people how to use the Bloomberg terminal. What we’ve made it into is a showcase for the in-depth reporting and analysis that Bloomberg produces. We wanted a design and an architecture that captures the quality journalism that we’ve done.

The other thing is that we wanted a design that captures the energy and intensity and the hard-working ethic of our readers, who tend to be educated, well paid and serious financial workers. We wanted a design to capture that. So it’s a reflection of the journalism that we’ve been doing and the characteristics of our readers.

How did you decide to add sections on personal wealth and careers?

We did a survey of our readers at the end of last year. It’s the most comprehensive survey that we’ve ever done. We wanted to get a comprehensive sense of what they thought of the magazine. By and large, the news was very good because they liked the magazine. Eighty-six percent of the readers that we surveyed had read the most recent magazine. They read the features, they read the cover story and they like the magazine. So it wasn’t a question of something that was broken. But we also asked them what they wanted to see more of in the magazine.

Three topics emerged from that survey. One was emerging markets. By that I mean the BRIC countries, or Brazil, Russia, India and China. I think there’s two reasons for that. One is that our readers have a very global perspective and they want to know what’s happening in these parts of the world. These days, these countries are the engines of economic growth. And other magazines don’t have the wherewithal to cover these areas and that’s an opportunity for us. But this coverage for us was already pretty substantial.

In regards to the other two areas, the magazine has always gone to people who are involved in finance professionally, and we’ve always presented our stories from that point of view. What the survey told us was that the people were also looking to the magazine to help them manage their own personal finances, what we call wealth management. We’ve already been covering more of that.

The third area is careers. People want to know about the interesting people in finance and how they have managed their careers, so the readers can get insights into how they can manage their own careers. In the forthcoming issue, for example, we’ll have an interview with the head of recruiting from Goldman Sachs who will talk about what Goldman Sachs looks for. So those are the kinds of insights we can give.

These two additional coverage areas, we’ve taken the section of the magazine called “Ventures” and renamed it “Wealth” because they captures the spirit of what we’re trying to do. We do car reviews for automobiles at the high end, from $80,000 to $300,000. We do wine and other kinds of drinks. We do mobile gadgets. Our readers are early adapters of technology. And we will add new sections on careers and wealth management.

Is there weakness in the other business magazines?

We live in interesting times both in terms of what we cover in the world of finance, which is in tremendous upheaval, and in publishing business and financial news, which is also undergoing dramatic change. Bloomberg as a company is committed to investing in journalism and has been for the past 20 years since it started its news operations. Bloomberg News has always emphasized reporter-driven journalism. That sounds pretty basic and fundamental. But if you look at journalism today, not everybody has the same approach. The distinction between fact-based reporting journalism and opinion and commentary and blogging is not always clear.

At Bloomberg News and at Bloomberg Markets, the distinction is very clear. So I think that is a great opportunity for us. We are a monthly magazine. We’re not a Web site. We’re not a weekly magazine. People expect to get definitive journalism when they pick up the magazine about global finance, which is what Bloomberg Markets is. I think that is an opportunity for us.

I’m sure you get this question all the time, but how do you keep Bloomberg Markets different from Bloomberg BusinessWeek?

I’m surprised it took you this long to get to it. Bloomberg Markets is a magazine for global finance and the global financial elite. If you look at who reads the magazine, there is very little overlap. They get most of their information most of the time from the Bloomberg terminal itself. And many of them read the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. But there’s only one financial business magazine that they read, and that’s Bloomberg Markets.

What the advertising side did when BusinessWeek became part of Bloomberg was they looked at the top 20 advertisers in both magazines, and there was no overlap. We reach different readers, and we have different advertisers.

Having said that, we do share something important, and that is we’re part of Bloomberg News and we draw on those resources. You’ll see contributions from Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Bloomberg Markets from the same journalists, but it won’t be the same story.

Could both magazines conceivable have a cover story one week about the same topic?

It’s conceivable that we would be interested in the same topic, but we have different deadlines and different strategies. We’ve both written stories about Goldman Sachs, but not the same stories. They have about three feature stories a week, and we have between eight and 11 feature stories in each issue. We do have to be mindful of what each other is doing, but I don’t see that happening. It’s not like we’re both going to have Bruce Springsteen on the cover. (Editors note: The last sentence is a reference to the week in October 1975 when Time and Newsweek both portrayed Springsteen on their covers.)

The September issue generated more than 1,000 letters for its investigation into life insurance companies. How did that story come up?

We’ve done investigative reporting almost since I have been here. It is one of those great opportunities for the magazine. We started looking at life insurance, and the reporter, David Evans, who is an experienced investigative reporter and has been here a long time, discovered that there was this program that allowed insurance companies, instead of paying people the survivors of people who had passed away with a lump sum check, they were instead getting something called a check book. But it wasn’t really a check book, and it wasn’t insured by the FDIC. It was a way for the insurance companies to hold onto the death benefits and invest that money into their corporate accounts.

There were two companies that we wrote about in particular. One is Prudential, which covers active duty and retired military. The other was MetLife, which overs civil service employees. What struck a chord was when we looked at solders who had been killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, instead of getting this lump sum payment, they were getting these so-called checkbooks.

This generated a huge amount of response from readers. We stopped counting at 1,000 e-mails, and it generated an immediate response in Washington and other places. The Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, said he had no idea that it was going on. Eventually, it was decided that these life insurance companies would start paying lump sums. We got a reaction, and we got actual action.

Bloomberg is known by most people for its breaking news, but it’s also doing these long investigative pieces for the magazine. Do you hope to accomplish more awareness for these longer pieces?

That’s one of the goals of the magazine. If you look at the history of this company, it’s had this tremendous growth of providing this terminal that provides a combination or news, data and analytics. That is how the company has grown, and it has done a tremendous job of breaking news. It’s always done that well.

But what [editor in chief] Matt [Winkler] realized is that in this competitive landscape, it’s not enough to say what happened, you have to say why it happened. In the time that I have been here, 12 years, we have much more context and analysis and we’ve made this commitment to enterprise, investigative journalism. And not all of it appears in Bloomberg Markets. There’s so much more in the terminal.

How accurate was the movie “The Informant”? (Henkoff was the Fortune reporter portrayed in the 2009 film interviewing whistle blower Mark Whitacre. Matt Dimon plays Whitacre, while unknown actor Brian Gallivan plays Henkoff.)

(Laughs). The whole running monologue is an interesting device. No one knew what was going on in Mark Whitacre’s head. When he’s being interviewed in the hotel room by a journalist, that interview is me, even though they don’t say my name until later in the movie. But the things inside his head, he didn’t say those things to me.

But the whole story of the price fixing is real, and it is kind of stranger than fiction. The whole thing about putting bugs in lampshades happened. He was a secret informer for the FBI, and he was a crook. It’s just a wild story.

Recognizing top business journalists

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Marketwatch.com media columnist Jon Friedman annoints a number of business journalists who are at the top of the game when it comes to breaking news and blogging.

Here are his selections:

Scoop-meisters: Jeff Bercovici, Keith Kelly, John Koblin

Bercovici of AOL’s Daily Finance, Kelly of the New York Post and Koblin of The New York Observer specialize in breaking news. For fun, they also infuriate PR people, fellow journalists and executives by printing stuff that the establishment wants to keep a secret. In an age when news is regarded as something of a commodity, they keep alive the vanishing art of getting exclusives.

Bloggers: Bess Levin, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Brian Stelter

Levin of Dealbreaker and the New York Times’s duo of Stelter and Sorkin are reinventing journalism with their blog posts. Levin has put a spark into the coverage of finance, daring to inject sarcasm — blasphemy! — and knock the Wall Street crowd off the pedestals that old media blowhards placed them on over the years. Levin sometimes seems to regard the Wall Streeters as little more than ill-mannered frat boys (imagine that). Sorkin has achieved must-read status with dogged reporting. Stelter, only a few years removed from Towson State in Maryland where he first reported on the television industry, has shown that age isn’t a barrier in covering a beat. A hard-working reporter — with generous access to Twitter — can compete with the veterans.

Read more here.

HP breaks its own news

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Taylor Buley of Forbes.com notes that Hewlett-Packard broke the news Tuesday that it was suing its former CEO Mark Hurd by posting a story and the lawsuit on its own site.

Buley writes, “Usually this would mark the moment when I urgently ask Forbes researcher Sue Radlauer to help me dig up the legal docs so I can publish them on behalf of you readers — except this time I was beat to the punch. Some fast-fingered reporter? Nope. I was beat by HP itself.

“HP published a blog item with a screaming ‘BREAKING’ headline. It published the complaint to Scribd and linked to it for all to see. The company later dropped a copy in a public Dropbox account for direct download. Its official Twitter account tipped Techmeme, a high profile technology news aggregator, which subsequently pushed out the press release directly from its homepage.

“Hurd’s move to Oracle is hot news. Aside from analysis and editorial filtering, people also want raw information. Had HP not published this legal document itself, I would have gladly done it for them. Instead, HP’s blog post suggests that the company has figured out how this online news thing works, and that the computer giant’s PR department might be as blog-savvy as me and the rest of the Internet.”

Read more here.

The future of financial journalism

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Elliot Turner of Wall St. Cheat Sheet interviewed Justin Fox, the editorial director of the Harvard Business Review, about business journalism and its future.

Here is an excerpt:

Elliot: As one with a background in both finance and journalism, and someone who has been active in the blogosphere, what do you think about the future direction of financial news information and research?

Justin: It’s one area where there clearly continues to be a market for the traditional content.  So in that sense, I’m not as worried about it as I am about Metropolitan daily newspapers and whatever will fill their role. I do miss those old Wall Street Journal front page stories that went on and on and on.

But in general there are lots of positive developments too, especially in economics. There’s such a rich economic blogosphere, and if you want to take the time to learn, it’s so easy to inform yourself.  Obviously lots of people don’t want to do that and they just want to find somebody who caters to their prejudices.  But I feel like, as a consumer of financial and economic information, I’m generally better served now than I was by the media of five, ten or twenty years ago.

Read more here.

The billionaire beat at Forbes

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Joe Pompeo of The Business Insider writes Thursday about how Forbes has been hiring bloggers to cover billionaires around the globe.

Pompeo writes, “As part of that expansion, Forbes.com has recruited a handful of freelance journalists to blog about the people on its annual World’s Billionaires List, with news, analysis and, of course, inside dirt, sources familiar with the plans told us.

“‘It’s going to be a great initiative and I expect you’ll make a superlative contribution to launching the next stage of Forbes.com as a major presence in online news,’ outgoing Forbes.com consultant Michael Roston wrote to the contributors in an email obtained by The Wire.

“Each blogger will cover billionaires in specific areas of the country and around the world, and their posts will be aggregated into a single feed on a new Forbes 400 website scheduled to launch later this month.

“The bloggers include LA Biz Observed editor Mark Lacter and freelance financial journalists Dan Fost and Teri Buhl, who will be reporting on New York’s and Connecticut’s billionaires, a la Michael Bloomberg, Carl Icahn and Steve Cohen.”

Read more here.

Talking Biz News turns five

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Talking Biz News, the daily blog about business journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is five years old today.

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:

1. 8,962 posts, or about 4.9 per day. Since daily blogging began on Jan. 1, 2006, the average is 5.4 posts per day.

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.

Forbes' blogging strategy could dilute brand

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Lauren Kirchner of Columbia Journalism Review is worried about what Forbes‘ new strategy where every writer will have a blog will mean to the business magazine.

Kirchner writes, “But it’s unclear whether these models will work with Forbes.com’s particular audience. (It’s the exact opposite of the Economist style, where the pieces are all written in a consistent voice and its writers don’t even get bylines.) The casual, individualized tone of a True/Slant blog won’t necessarily translate to a staid Forbes story about oil markets, for instance. So what reason will Forbes.com readers have to ‘follow’ or ‘friend’ (or whatever) a particular reporter over another? Perhaps readers will be ‘fans’ of particular beats, rather than reading columnists for their unique writing styles.

“Another important difference, though, between the original True/Slant experiment and this new iteration of Forbes.com is that True/Slant was a completely blank slate, but Forbes is a well established news institution. Forbes is already its own brand, already has a readership, and that readership has certain expectations.

“The danger of an ‘everyone blogs’ edict is that it might dilute that brand, which can play out in at least two ways. One, reporters may find themselves distracted by the hungry beast of the blog and less able to report and write the other, longer stories they had previously devoted their time to. If the quality of the writing goes down, that can counteract the benefits presumed by an uptick in the quantity of the writing. Two, the aforementioned combination of ‘thousands [of] freelance contributors’ and a ‘less layered process’ will loosen editorial control, and, potentially, lessen the quality of the content coming into the site from the outside.”

Read more here.

Journalists hired for Changing Gears site

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Micki Maynard, the former New York Times auto reporter who now oversees the “Changing Gears” journalism project examining the economic and social shifts in the Midwest, announced a staff for the project on Thursday.

They include:

Dan Bobkoff, a Changing Gears reporter based in Cleveland. Bobkoff has been a staff reporter at 90.3 WCPN ideastream and frequent contributor to NPR programs including All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

Niala Boodhoo, a Changing Gears reporter based in Chicago. Boodhoo has been the multi-media business reporter for the Miami Herald and is also an NPR contributor.

Kate Davidson, a Changing Gears reporter based in Ann Arbor, MI. Davidson has been a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered and is a documentary filmmaker.

George Nemeth, editor for social engagement and new media, based in Cleveland. Nemeth is a veteran blogger and the founder of BrewedFreshDaily.com.

Read more here.