Tag Archives: Coverage
Thought I would check back in at the New Orleans Times-Picayune to see what types of stories they were writing related to the business aspects of Hurricane Katrina.
What I found was a lot of stories discussing the storm’s impact. This morning’s paper had a story about how a lot of local businesses would like to be involved in the cleanup of the aftermath, but they’re having trouble finding employees to work. Another focused on how the Louis Armstrong International Airport had canceled some of its construction projects because the number of flights in and out of the city had decreased dramatically since the hurricane, forcing it to lay off a number of workers and resulting in a drop in its revenues.
On Wednesday, business editor Charles Crumpley chipped in with a story on how leading business executives from New Orleans are lobbying Congress for post-storm financial help. You can find that story here.
And on Sunday, personal finance writer Mary Judice offered tips on where to find cash related to Hurricane Katrina for those who need money. Her column is here.
I spent some time on Monday talking to reporters and editors who follow the Federal Reserve about the new chairman Ben Bernanke and how he will differ in his dealings with the media compared to outgoing chairman Alan Greenspan, who was one of the most visable people covered in business journalism in the past 18 years.
Here is what some of them had to say:
Brendan Murray, who covers the Fed for Bloomberg in its DC bureau: “Basically, picking Bernanke will be the next chapter in the Fed’s shift to more transparency, which began under Greenspan. The question is will more openness — Bernanke the clear-speaking economic versus Greenspan’s famous obfuscation — help or hurt the fed in its effort to serve several masters: the public, Wall Street, Congress, the White House and so on?”
Peter Coy, who is the economics editor for BusinessWeek: “I think Bernanke will work hard to depersonalize the conduct of monetary policy. In fact, thatâ€™s what I was just told by Frederic Mishkin, a Columbia economist who has worked closely with him. Mishkin thinks the Bernanke appointment is bad for journalists in that weâ€™ll lose a colorful, oracular figure. Bernanke will promote transparency, which deprives journalists of the role of interpreter of the oracle.”
Jodi Schneider, economics editor for Congressional Quarterly: “I’m not sure that coverage of the Fed will change appreciably, at least not from my understanding of Bernanke or his background. I think the Fed apparatus remains largely in place despite who is sitting in the chair, and that while Greenspan gave off-the-record interviews, Bernanke probably will as well. He has written widely, and I’m sure folks will pore over those documents as they look into his record, background. As a respected academic, he does have a trail of work, some of it opinionated, and that I think will make it somewhat easier to cover him as there are opinions, etc., that are there. He does appear more to be the typical academic economist (i.e., not married to a famous, celebrity journalist like Greenspan) and may be lower key.”
Andrew Cassel, who writes a column on the economy for the Philadelphia Inquirer three days a week: “I’ve personally never had an off-the-record interview with Greenspan, although I have heard that he occasionally spoke to a very select number of key reporters for papers such as the WSJ, NYT and Washington Post. (I was in the audience once when he did speak off-the-record to a group of about 30 reporters.) I’ve spoken to Bernanke exactly once, and he frankly wasn’t that helpful or encouraging. If he cared much about what I was writing, he gave no sign of it.
“I can’t imagine that for most of us, covering the Fed will change in any material fashion under Bernanke, because Fed coverage is driven less by what the institution itself does than by the reactions of others, in the financial markets, Congress and academia. We’ll still echo the analysts’ parsing of every word in the FOMC’s policy statements, the wires will still dog every Fed member whenever they speak, and the public will continue to understand very little of what’s said or reported anyway. This will only change if economic conditions become either dramatically better (i.e., another ’90s, style stock-market boom) or dramatically worse. In which case the Fed will become a vital player, scapegoat and populist whipping boy, just like always.”
My interpretation: There is no consensus as to where Bernanke will head in his dealings with the media, which is like Greenspan’s obfuscatory talk and is probably making the outgoing chairman smile today.
What some prominent Federal Reserve reporters think about the nomination of Bernanke to be the next Fed chairman and how they think their beat will change.
There’s a similar Web site to the one I posted below about Latin and South America business news that covers business news in the European Union.
I did a quick Google search to find it. Here is some background: Founded in Luxembourg in 1997 by Managing Director Nick Prag, the site is managed and owned by EUbusiness Ltd in the United Kingdom. Its team of journalists provide daily-updated news and information about EU policy, legislation, economic data and opportunities to a fast-growing membership of over 60,000, of which more than 46,000 receive the weekly newsletter EUbusiness Week.
Is anyone else familiar with business news Web site for other parts of the globe?
Although this is a registration site, I like the documents section. There seemed to be some nice content here of documents from the EU regulatory agency that reporters would need quick access to during stories.
In case you haven’t been following The Donald’s threats against the Old Gray Lady, he and his minions made thinly veiled threats of suing the newspaper for libel and slander in the New York Post in this article. The Times article is an excerpt from the book Trump Nation written by reporter Timothy O’Brien.
The biggest allegation in the article is that The Donald apparently inflates his net worth to promote his own purposes. There is an interesting discourse in the article between the real estate developer and Forbes magazine about estimating his net worth for inclusion in the list of 400 richest Americans.
Although he was included on the original list, O’Brien can’t find any basis for that, and he notes that Forbes and Trump often disagreed about his value, with The Donald always giving a higher figure — with the difference from the magazine’s estimate sometimes ranging in the billions. To Forbes credit, it has always scoffed at Trump’s estimates, as noted by editor Peter Newcomb in the Times article.
It appears that business sections in Florida are gearing up for another round of stories on how a hurricane will affect the businesses and economies of their local areas.
The Tampa Tribune wrote today about how technology can be used by companies to minimize the damage from hurricanes. Read that story here. It also ran an Associated Press story on the potential impact that the storm might have on Florida’s agriculture industry. You can find that story here.
The St. Petersburg Times ran the same story on the agriculture industry. And it also had a compilation of shorter stories, put together here, that included a piece about panic gas buying leading to some shortages in the area.
Curiously, I did not find any business-related hurricane stories on the Miami Herald’s web site today.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune had perhaps the best coverage on Friday. Its top business story was about how one of Florida’s power companies has tapped out its available resources in finding extra workers and power line crews because of all the other storms this year. That story can be read here. The Fort Myers News-Press had a similar story, but its was shorter. That can be read here.
In additon, the Herald-Tribune had a story about the fuel situation in Florida. That can be read here.
The best story was this one from the Herald-Tribune. It’s about how certain people can’t evacuate when a hurricane is coming because their job — whether it’s a nurse or a policeman or a variety of other positoons — requires them to stick around.
All in all, I’d grade the effort of the Sarasota paper as an A, while the others receive a B. The Miami paper gets an incomplete.
I worked at the Sarasota, Tampa and St. Petersburg papers from 1988-1993, and I covered Hurricane Andrew for the Tampa paper in 1992 as a business story, so I’m fascinated to see how Florida storms get covered from the business angle.
Just got back from Kansas City, where I talked at a Reynolds Center workshop at the Star. Two interesting discussions with the reporters there:
1. Until recently, the dollar amount of real estate transactions in Missouri was not a public record. It’s still not a public record in Kansas. I was shocked. It must be tough to cover real estate in this area without that information.
2. Interstate Bakeries has filed for Chapter 11, but its stock price has actually gone UP since it filed! Has anyone ever experienced something like this? I’ve never known a chapter 11 case where the shareholders actually got something out of the case, but apparently these shareholders think they will. In every bankruptcy case I’ve ever covered or read about, the stock becomes worthless, and it’s the bonds of the company that has value.
Strange doings in Kansas City.
The National Association of Black Journalists gave out two awards in the business news category on Saturday in its annual Salute to Excellence awards competition. The winners were:
Newspaper – Business: Bob Norman, New Times Broward-Palm Beach, â€œMinority Report.â€?
Norman’s 2004 piece is about how a hospital district commissioner in South Florida uses his minority status for financial gain. It can be read here.
Newspaper – Business: Ron Nixon, Terry Collins, and Dee DePass, Star Tribune, â€œBorrowing Trouble.â€?
You can read all three parts of the Borrowing Trouble series here. It’s quite good and focuses on how many low-income consumers are stuck with high-interest loans.
Is it too laudatory? Are we seeing the first signs of the media going back to its fawning ways of covering business from the 1990s when we look at how Apple Computer has been covered lately?
That’s the conclusion of Jack Shafer, whose Slate column on the subject can be read here.
I’m going to have to agree with him. I’m currently teaching “Economics Reporting” this semester, and the final project for the class is a stock portfolio that each student picks at the beginning of the semester and then tracks throughout the three months, explaining the highs and lows based on economic data and other factors.
Exactly half of the class picked Apple as one of the stocks in their portfolios. They’re all iPod freaks and fawn over Apple products. Many of them picked Apple as a stock because of their perceived demand for iPods for the Christmas shopping season and the debut of the new video iPod. None have written in their stock papers about any potential problems with these products — or the fact that Apple’s success in new products has not always been 100 percent on target.
It’s a lesson that they’ll have to learn the hard way. Their Apple stock hasn’t made them any money. That sour performance — and me beating them over the head about ethics and objectivity when it comes to owning stocks that you write about — should help open their eyes.
I’ve been struck this week that, despite the efforts of many to understand the relevance of money and numbers, the importance of the business angle is still ignored at other desks in newspapers.
This point hit me as I’ve been reading the local papers about the North Carolina State Fair, which started on Friday. A number of the rides at the fair have not opened because they haven’t passed safety inspections, a strong business angle if there ever was one to the financial success of the fair. But most of the coverage that I’ve read hasn’t taken the reporting one step further, and that is to get projections on how much revenue the fair ride operator is losing every day these rides remain closed.
Some reporters might be satisfied with the response from someone theyr’e interviewing that the information isn’t available or that no one at the company has made this kind of projection. And my reaction would be, “How bad do you want it?” If you want the information bad enough, you’ll find ways to get it. Ask other sources. Look at ride revenue from 2004.
We still have a long way to go to teach non-business desk reporters the importance of getting these numbers into a story.