Tag Archives: Commentary
by Chris Roush
Salmon writes, “Murphy is asking his overstretched journalists (just one person for all of Latin America, for instance) to tell financial professionals something they don’t already know: that’s a tall order.
“The big picture here, to me, is not that the FT is making an ambitious move into becoming a genuinely global financial-news organization, but rather that it isn’t. Important news about what’s going on in crucial global markets should be a core competency of the FT, a key part of why people read it rather than, say, the WSJ, which seems to be more interested in building up its New York City coverage. Instead, the big Tilt project is being ghettoized behind its own high paywall, is being forced to pay for itself through high-priced subscriptions, and is being deliberately withheld from the broader FT audience.
“I’ve said before that the FT is retreating to a newsletter model; I called that ‘a sad and narrow fate for what should be a proud and global newspaper.’ Tilt only reinforces that diagnosis, and seems to be based on the idea that the FT won’t invest in ambitious new projects which are central to what its target audience wants, unless it can wall those projects off and get them to pay for themselves on a narrow, self-standing basis.”
Read more here.
Roger Ehrenberg, a managing partner for Information Arbitrage Ventures, writes that the business media often create a frenzy in the markets by reporting noise that really isn’t news.
Ehrenberg writes, “I have historically thought of the media complex as being designed to report news and break stories, with an emphasis on information dissemination and analysis. Market responses are then based upon new information ferreted out and reported by the media, in addition to data collection and proprietary research done by investors.
But the media of today seems so much different, not satisfied with merely reporting since all manner of real-time media is beating traditional reporting to the punch. And there appears to be a relatively small number of thought-leading analysts who don’t merely report but think, contextualize and predict. There is a dynamism and intellectual curiosity to this kind of reporting that is fresh, timely and value-added, but is sadly the exception and not the norm.
“Which leaves the rest of media, seemingly unsatisfied with merely reporting the news but instead hell-bent on creating the news.
Brian Bloch of Investopedia writes for the San Francisco Chronicle about what’s wrong with financial journalism today.
Bloch writes, “Preaching to the converted — this ancient idiom captures an extremely prevalent and profound truth. It refers to giving a moral sermon to those who are already in the church, and thus presumably already following the religion that is being preached. By definition, those who should be listening are absent. This is shockingly similar to certain aspects of financial journalism and information in all its forms.
“The classic irony is that this very article will be read by the converted only. So my request to all readers is to spread the word to anyone you know who could be in need of honest advice, and who can be directed towards the financial media.
“The problem group referred to here are all of those who do not know what they need to know about their investments. In particular, these are inexperienced investors who could easily learn the basics which would prevent them from entry-level rip-offs, such as common or garden misselling, unsuitable or inefficient investments and getting into the market at a hideously risky all-time high.”
Farhod Manjoo writes on Slate.com about how useless the Consumer Electronics Show going on this week in Las Vegas is for most tech journalists.
Manjoo writes, “The fact that CES is an enormous waste of time isn’t news to tech journalists. In private, gadget reporters will tell you that covering the show is a tremendous hassle and rarely yields any interesting news. But because CES demos make for great headlines and visuals — hey look, Steve Ballmer unveiled a tablet PC even before Apple did! — and because of the sheer volume of new stuff to post about, CES is a boon for gadget blog traffic and a honeypot for advertisers.
“To be sure, I’m very grateful that my reporting colleagues are all out covering the show; in the unlikely event that something of consequence is announced at CES, I’ll happily scour Engadget, Gizmodo, and other sites from the comfort of my home.
“But I doubt that’s going to happen. The last time we saw something interesting unveiled at CES was in 2009, when Palm showed off its Pre phone. (The Pre didn’t actually go on sale until June that year.) But that was a rarity. Most of the groundbreaking products to hit the market over the last few years — the iPhone, the iPad, the Kindle, the first Android phone, the Chrome OS, and pretty much everything else — were announced elsewhere. Apple always skips CES, and even the companies that attend seem to phone it in. Microsoft’s two great products of 2010 — the new Windows Phone and the Xbox Kinect — were nowhere to be seen at last year’s show.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Kevin Osborne, the news editor of Cincinnati CityBeat, writes about the ramifications of the hiring of Carolyn Washburn, formerly the editor of the Idaho Statesman, to be the editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer does not result in any confidence for the future of its business coverage.
Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) wrote in 2001: ‘The Idaho Statesman has a curious definition of ‘fact checking.’ The business editor of the Gannett-owned daily, Jim Bartimo, resigned when he was told that a story he had worked on about Micron Technologies, the area’s largest employer, had to be sent for pre-publication ‘review’… to Micron Technologies.’
“Previously The Statesman‘s business news practices were examined by The Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz, in articles from January and February 2000. Kurtz’s article revealed that The Statesman reporter covering the Micron beat was married to a Micron employee.
“When Kurtz asked Washburn about the paper’s Micron coverage and whether it was afraid to be too critical, she replied, ‘It’s not that it has anything to do with their being the biggest employer. What we write can affect a lot of people in this community. It can affect the stock price.’”
Read more here. Washburn was a business reporter and business editor of the Lansing State Journal in Michigan from 1984 to 1987 and a business reporter and business editor at the Times-Union in Rochester, N.Y. from 1987 to 1991.
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones notes that Gene Sperling, an economist who is up to replace Larry Summers as head of the National Economic Council, has been paid $137,500 a year to write a 900-word monthly column for Bloomberg News.
Drum writes, “Felix Salmon isn’t too impressed with any of the three main candidates to replace Larry Summers as head of the NEC. Roger Altman and Richard Levin both have substantial ties to Wall Street, and then:
Finally there’s Sperling, who in some ways is the worst of the three when it comes to grubbing money from Wall Street. The other two have well-defined and easily-understood jobs; Sperling, by contrast, signed up with the Harry Walker Agency and started giving speeches to anybody with cash, including not only Citigroup but even Allen Stanford. He also wrote a monthly 900-word column for Bloomberg for $137,500 a year, which works out at about $13 per word.
“This really brings things home to a scribbler like me. Being paid a million bucks a year for some kind of ill-defined financial ‘consulting’ is one thing. I don’t really know anything about what that entails. But writing? I know all about that, and $11,000 for an op-ed is a wee bit excessive, no? At least, it is if it’s really just the writing you’re paying for.”
Read more here.
Lisa Carricaburu, the assistant managing editor for business, projects and planning at the Salt Lake Tribune, writes about how the paper has maintained its business coverage when others have cut back.
Carricaburu writes, “They are why The Tribune — unlike many daily newspapers including our closest competitors — have elected to maintain a robust business reporting and editing team to produce daily employment, financial and consumer news. Uniquely in our market, The Tribune produces a standalone Money section in print and continuously updates business news online beginning at 7 a.m. each weekday.
“Our team of veteran business journalists has the privilege — and the responsibility — to cover the most significant story of our time. The Great Recession has touched each of us in inexorable ways, and under business editor Michael Limon, our team works each day to help readers make sense of the often contradictory world of economics and finance.
“We’ve produced coverage in the past year we hope has achieved our goal to explain how and where the crisis has most profoundly affected Utahns.”
Read more here.
Allen Wastler, the managing editor of CNBC.com, writes about the potential for press conferences at the Federal Reserve Board, which has not been holding such events.
Wastler writes, “It’s a notion of particular interest to business journalists, since we’re covering the institution all the time. The central bank is typically aloof and guarded in its communications. The Big Guy’s unscripted discussions usually come in appearances before Congress or in carefully controlled interviews with journalists who aren’t beat reporters (see the ‘60 Minutes’ appearance a few weeks ago. My colleague Steve Liesman had a few choice words about that).
“When the Fed chairman does speak, the answers can be a little opaque and hard to follow. Alan Greenspan was the master of the turgid comeback, but Bernanke can do some mean gobbledigook too.
“Of course, there’s a good reason for all this. One misstatement or fumbled answer from the Fed Chief could conceivably give the Flash Crash a run for its money. Nevertheless the central bank isn’t getting credit for keeping its distance these days. Instead it’s getting grief for its lack of transparency.
“Press conferences would change the journalistic ball game somewhat. For starters, you’d get the chance to publicly say what most people are probably thinking: ‘What exactly does THAT mean, Mr. Chairman?’”
Read more here.
Erik Sherman of BNET reports that Forbes.com is taking free content from bloggers and wants to resell it in other formats.
Sherman writes, “In other words, Forbes can take any free blog material and use it in any of its magazines or give permission to any other publisher that has licensed the Forbes name. It can sell rights to others to use the blog posts and also sell reprints. These rights last forever and extend to all wireless and mobile. And the writers get nothing.
“This is irony thick enough to cut, to say nothing of the stance being fundamentally dismissive of the writers that publisher wants to attract. If something is worth selling, it is worth paying for. Then again, I recently spoke with someone who worked for DVorkin when he still had True/Slant — before he sold it to Forbes, locked in his new job, and cut loose most of the writers who had helped build the site.
“‘We all got a form letter — a form letter: Your contract is up,’ the person said. ‘Thank you for your help. It was [addressed] ‘Dear contributor.’ They couldn’t even fill in our names. If he was having a heart attack in the gutter, I wouldn’t call 911.’ Ouch. At least he was paying writers something back then. Call the Forbes.com angle a refinement. Who said you can’t take it with you?”
Read more here.