Tag Archives: Coverage
The financial press did a an excellent job of covering the growing problems in the housing market, but didn’t do a good job of explaining what that would mean to the economy, said two prominent business journalists on Friday.
“The press did not do a good job of connecting what was going on with Main Street with what was going on on Wall Street,” said Joe Nocera, a Saturday business columnist with the New York Times. “I am embarrassed to say I didn’t know what a collateralized debt obligation was until the crisis was gaining steam. That was a mistake on my part.”
Added Jonathan Weil, a columnist for Bloomberg: “What we didn’t understand was being able to look past those rising housing prices” to see what the impact would be.
Weil and Nocera spoke at the fall Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference, which is being held at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York.
In terms of how business journalism has adjusted to the economy, Nocera noted that the Times now has a full-time reporter whose job now is to cover foreclosures.
“There are very few people in structured finance, let alone journalists, who understand structured finance,” said Weil. Earlier, he said, “Covering regulation — when was the last time you saw IRS rules and regulations get a lot of attention in the mainstream press?”
Nocera, however, thought the problems in the real estate market were covered well.
“When I think back on it, not necessarily my coverage per se, I think the press, if you look, back, did a good job of exposing the growing problem of subprime mortgages on Main Street,” he said. “Fortune did a ton of stuff on this. The Wall Street Journal did a ton on this.”
The next big financial story that business journalists should be looking at, said Weil, is credit unions. “They’re not getting covered by anybody,” he said.
He also noted that Bloomberg has hired a number of reporters to cover municipal debt across the country.
David Elbert of the Des Moines Register writes Sunday about Brian Krebs, who appears to be the only business journalist covering cyber crime on a full-time basis.
Elbert writes, “‘I’m seeing evidence of six to a dozen new victims a week, and that’s just from one organized crime gang,’ said Brian Krebs, who writes a blog, KrebsOnSecurity.com, that tracks cyber thefts, including the one from the Des Moines diocese.
“Krebs is a former Washington Post technology reporter. He’s the only journalist I know who tracks cyber crimes full time. A few days after Krebs wrote about the Des Moines theft, he posted an article about a similar theft of nearly $1 million from an arm of the University of Virginia.
“In the Des Moines theft, Krebs traced some of the stolen money to bank accounts in Ukraine. The Virginia money was transferred to China, he said.
“Only a handful of these kinds of cases get reported. Usually they involve public or semi-public institutions where some sort of public disclosure is required or expected. When businesses get hit, most of us never hear about it.”
Read more here.
Karen Peterson, the executive editor of the Tacoma News Tribune, writes Sunday about how photojournalist Drew Perine is telling the story of workers for the paper’s Labor Day coverage.
Peterson writes, “Here’s what inspired photojournalist Perine to launch his Labor Day series.
“‘For years it bothered me that ordinary working people didn’t have an easy way to get their stories told in The News Tribune,’ he said. ‘Unless you ran afoul of the law or did something unique or heroic, there was little chance the local newspaper could devote space to the fact that you might be a damn good ditch digger or a talented IT specialist.’
“Perine’s first portrait package, for Labor Day 2001, was themed ‘Dirty jobs.’ He photographed workers at Atlas Foundry, the Port of Tacoma and a wood mill.
“In 2003, the theme was small-business owners. The story started: ‘Running a small business in the South Sound is a matter of passion, say owners who operate their own shops. Most don’t get rich. Vacations don’t always happen. The hours turn long. But there’s a common theme: They love the work.’ Perine photographed owners of a funeral home, a meat market and a wig shop.”
Read more here. This year’s photo theme is “Career Change.”
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Editor’s note: As part of its five-year anniversary, Talking Biz News will be posting interviews with top business journalists every day this week. Here is the first one.
David Callaway is editor in chief of MarketWatch.com, responsible for the day-to-day coverage from a team of about 100 journalists on three continents. Callaway joined MarketWatch in March 1999 as managing editor and was promoted to executive editor in early 2000. He became editor in chief in March 2003.
Callaway has been a financial journalist for more than 20 years, having reported on everything from the 1987 stock market crash and Wall Street’s insider trading trials of the late 1980s to the introduction of the European single currency and the consolidation of Europe’s banking and securities industries in the mid-1990s.
Callaway came to MarketWatch from Bloomberg News, where he worked for five years, almost all of it in London, as a reporter and team leader covering financial services. Before that he worked for six years as a reporter, and then columnist, for The Boston Herald.
During his time at MarketWatch, Callaway has seen the site sold twice — first to Dow Jones & Co. in 2004 for more than $460 million, and then three years later when all of Dow Jones & Co. was sold to NewsCorp.
In three of the past six years, MarketWatch has been voted the best financial news site with more than 1 million unique users by Editor & Publisher and Media Week magazine in their Eppy Awards.
Callaway spoke with Talking Biz News via e-mail on Monday about MarketWatch and business journalism. What follows is an edited transcript.
What role do you see MarketWatch playing in business journalism?
MarketWatch levels the playing field for active investors by bringing real-time financial journalism to the masses for free. Rapid coverage and breaking news headlines — long the province of only Reuters, Bloomberg and Dow Jones Newswires — have been a staple at MarketWatch since the beginning. No other website offers them, even now. Also, rapid context and commentary, and a big push into international coverage, help position MarketWatch, I believe, to be the first truly global financial news service entirely online.
How does it differentiate its coverage from the other Dow Jones properties such as The Journal and Dow Jones Newswires?
MarketWatch positions its coverage for investors, active investors or those who at least actively track their holdings. The Wall Street Journal positions itself for corporate executives, the CEOs of companies. Newswires promotes itself to professional traders and financial advisers.
You seem to be sharing more content with The Journal and Dow Jones Newswires recently. Is that intentional?
Under News Corp., the integration of Dow Jones properties has speeded up, particularly between the Wall Street Journal and Newswires, which now jointly run certain bureaus. MarketWatch takes a handful of stories each day from its partners, but 95 percent of our news is still developed entirely by staff.
What sets MarketWatch apart from other online business news sites?
Speed and context. As I said before, we are the only site that sends out headlines on breaking news. Not e-mail alerts. Headlines. My guess is others don’t do it because they don’t click through to anything, but they are a favorite part of our site and something we work hard at. We also develop rapid fire context and commentary on breaking news. Our staple of columnists — Mark Hulbert, Peter Brimelow, Irwin Kellner, David Weidner, etc. — is the largest and most talented in the business, I believe.
Who do you see as your biggest competitors, and why?
As an Internet site selling advertising, MarketWatch competes with the other leaders in the sector — Yahoo Finance, CNNMoney, Forbes.com, etc. But none of those sites are primary news providers. As an editorial operation, we hold ourselves up against Reuters, Bloomberg, the Financial Times, and the New York Times — the primary providers of breaking news, scoops, commentary, and investment ideas. WSJ and Newswires are on this list, but now as partners.
How has MarketWatch changed since you joined in 1999 and become editor in 2003?
We’ve expanded significantly, adding bureaus in Chicago, Boston, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Madrid. We will soon have a person in Sydney and in Mumbai. We’ve also built out the type of market stories we do, moving from equities into currencies, fixed-income, derivatives and, of course, hedge fund coverage. We’ve added columnists and extra charts and data, and the acquisition of MarketWatch by Dow Jones in 2005 has helped us invest in the company through redesigns and geographic growth.
What areas would you like to see Marketwatch improve its coverage?
We need to add even more international coverage as the markets for investors are increasingly interconnected and move on overseas events. The Greece debt shock and Dubai shocks last year really drove that home. If you go to MarketWatch at 2 a.m. Eastern time, you’ll see it is popping with breaking news and coverage from Asia. Go to Yahoo! or CNNMoney.com or Forbes.com and you’ll see they are dark. We also need to add more markets coverage — analysis of currency movements and options and bonds, to appeal to an even broader range of investors.
What can Marketwatch do that other business news sites don’t to set it apart?
Because of our large stable of columnists, we have great columns, but we also use the team to bang out real-time commentary. It’s kind of like what BreakingViews does for Reuters now. We also have the headlines, which I mentioned earlier, and a commitment to markets coverage, which most sites just outsource now to Reuters or AP.
MarketWatch seems to be doing a lot more video on its site. What is the thinking behind that?
All of the Dow Jones properties are using more video, as we’ve all invested in developing it into a fully-equal form of story-telling with print, web and audio. We’ve found most readers not only want, but expect, some form of video component on their news sites. Traffic is way up, and video is popular with advertisers. So we’re committed to growing it, as long as we can do it in a way that demonstrates strong journalism and story-telling abilities.
What has been the biggest adjustment for business journalism in the past 20 years?
Like all journalism, it’s been the adjustment to an online world. Business and sports journalism are both particularly suited to online coverage, where rapid news and scores are demanded by readers, along with equally fast analysis and commentary. For business journalism in particular, the biggest adjustment after online has been the globalization of the markets and the impact that’s had on investor portfolios.
A lot of people have criticized business news in the past few years for failing to warn consumers about the economy. What’s your take?
There are always going to be unforeseen events, the so-called Black Swans. But in terms of warning about things like real estate bubbles, bond bubbles, tech stock bubbles, all the warnings were there. It’s just that most of the folks riding those bubbles don’t want to listen, journalists included. Just this past week, we’ve seen plenty of warnings about a bond bubble. It will burst at some point, but in a way nobody expected. Subsequently, someone will turn back and say there were no warnings.
Overall, where could there be improvement in business journalism?
Absolutely, there is always room for improvement. Sourcing guidelines could be better across the board; more focus on what readers and investors want rather than what works in terms of traffic (circulation); a bigger-picture, international focus by editors; and new ways to use the Web and mobile devices to tell stories.
Are you concerned that there are big stories being missed such as the Madoff scandal?
There are clearly other Madoffs out there, and when they burst there will be the predictable hair-pulling, but I’m not concerned. It’s the unpredictability of it that makes it news. There are hundreds of great stories out there right now and business journalism is as competitive as ever, so many of them will see the light of day — hopefully first on MarketWatch.
Paul Osmundson, the editor of the York County Herald in Rock Hill, S.C., writes Sunday about the paper’s plans to expand its business coverage.
Osmundson writes, “Our new business editor, Don Worthington, has been with us for several weeks. He’s met several business owners as well as local leaders. He’s learned about our local economy, its opportunities and its problems.
“Don is a veteran journalist. He’s a former sports reporter, city government reporter and editor. He most recently was business editor at The Fayetteville Observer in North Carolina.
“During his time here in Rock Hill, he’s written a wide range of business stories, from profiles to economic trends.
“Today, Don starts a new column called, ‘Your Business.’ The column will report on business achievements such as promotions and honors received by individuals or businesses. It also will include information about new businesses, expansions and relocations.
“We’re also expanding our Thursday business page to provide more stories about local businesses and how national business developments affect York, Chester and Lancaster counties.”
Marketwatch.com media columnist Jon Friedman writes Monday about an interview he had with CBS business correspondent Anthony Mason,, who notes that the network’s business coverage aims for a different audience than those watching CNBC and Fox Business.
Friedman writes, “While the competitors have their strengths, Mason believes that CBS is not at a disadvantage in the battle to perform its task.
“‘I think we have a different audience,’ he explained in an episode of ‘Media Matters with Jon Friedman.’ ‘People who are really interested in business, they’re going to Fox, they’re going to CNBC. Our audience tends to be people who are curious to know the general direction of the market. But they’re more worried, are they going to have a job next week?’
“As much as anything else, Mason believes his responsibility is to connect with viewers on a level that means he gives them more than the headlines through the prism of Wall Street. CNBC has been criticized for giving short shrift at times to small investors at the expense of catering to the professionals.
“‘If the business channels miss anything,’ Mason told me, ‘I think they’ve been incredibly disconnected from Main Street. They express certain anger about political figures but what they’ve completely missed is how frustrated the middle class in America is with the way things work.’”
Read more here.
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
The decisions and issues facing a business editor in a smaller city are much different than, say, the business editor of The New York Times.
For Ron Bartizek, the business editor at the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, the biggest issue is sometimes finding a reporter willing to take on a business story — there is no full-time business desk filled with reporters at the Pennsylvania paper, which has a daily circulation of about 36,000 and a Sunday circulation of about 50,000.
Bartizek has spent more than 30 years in journalism, and has been at the Times Leader since 2000. He has been the business editor since 2005.
Before that, he was editor and publisher of two weekly papers in Pennsylvania.
Bartizek spoke by e-mail with Talking Biz News about the issues facing a business editor in a smaller market. What follows is an edited transcript.
1. How big is your business news staff in Wilkes-Barre?
There isn’t a truly dedicated business writer. The one who is considered the primary business writer is a very good investigative reporter with long experience in crime, courts etc. and he is frequently drawn into those stories. Otherwise, we spread stories around. One other reporter tends to do more business than others, but anyone — including interns — may write a new business feature. I contribute as time allows, which is less than I’d like.
2. How does that affect what business news stories you cover on a daily basis?
It’s hard to devote even a full day to a single story, so we tend to do short features or react to daily events, such as plant closings, new business announcements, unemployment rates, etc.
3. What types of stories do you like to focus on — company coverage or more economics coverage — and why?
None of us really are competent to write about high-level economics, and we don’t think readers expect that of us. So we try to cover the local scene and business people.
4. How do you see your role in covering business news different than what the big dailies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are doing?
Those papers, especially Philly, often take a statewide approach. We’re strictly local, pretty much limited to our county of 300,000+ population.
5. You also write a weekend column. How does that fit into your coverage scheme?
I try to vary content, and if we do any economics-type writing it’s here. Other times I’ll write about a business and its owner that might otherwise have been a feature, or about hot-button issues like shale gas drilling.
6. Do you think being an owner of a paper in the past affects how the Times Leader covers business?
Owning a small business for more than a decade makes me attuned to that segment. I’d like to think it provides insight into what questions reporters should ask. The more time I spend watching how businesses work, the more I respect people whose own skin is in the game as opposed to careerist managers who often conduct themselves like politicians.
7. What types of stories would you like to see covered more frequently or in depth by the paper?
I’d like to do a better job putting a local, human face on national issues such as unemployment. Also explaining the effect of decisions made in Washington and on Wall Street through the eyes of local business owners.
8. How has your coverage changed since the economic crisis that began in 2008?
This area has a large number of local and regional banks, so we’ve tried to stay in touch with them and help readers understand they’re different from Goldman, Citi, etc.
Of course, we always ask sources how the economic climate affects them, particularly regarding employment. We pay more attention to housing and real estate.
9. What stories do you leave to the wires?
Pretty much all national and international economic stuff. I also look for good features that can be used in our Sunday section, where we have more space.
10. What business news stories do you think papers such as the Times Leader do a better job of covering than the bigger media?
I think we can respond quickly to stresses and opportunities at the local level, which often reflect what’s going on nationally. And we try to write “good news” as well as bad, because both are important.
11. What would you like to improve about your business coverage?
More local investigative and in-depth local economy coverage and more consumer-focused stories. I’d also like more time to plan layouts that pack diverse information in limited space.
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) appeared on the Fox Business Network Tuesday to discuss the legislation aimed at closing the loophole in the recent financial regulation laws that allow the Securities and Exchange Commission to keep from disclosing certain information when requested by journalists.
The loophole came to light last month when the SEC denied a request for information from Fox Business Network. Since then, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and other journalism groups have spoken out against it.
Ben White of Politico reports that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will introduce legislation Thursday to repeal section 9291 of Dodd-Frank, which allows the SEC to refuse to disclose records or other information in response to certain Freedom of Information Act requests.
White reports, “The Dodd-Frank provision, which garnered no attention during debate over the bill, sparked outrage among journalists and government watchdog groups yesterday after Fox Business Channel said a FOIA request was denied under the provision. Issa’s bill will be called ‘The SEC Freedom of Information Restoration Act.’ Legislation: http://politi.co/btqMYZ
“ISSA told Morning Money: ‘This is just the latest example of Congress passing and the President signing legislation into law without fully understanding what’s in it. Either that or the Administration knowingly orchestrated the inclusion of a provision that shields the SEC from the transparency and accountability this reform bill was supposed to represent.
“‘Regardless of intent, both Democrats and Republicans alike should agree that we cannot allow this regulatory body that failed to catch Allen Stanford’s fraud and Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme to operate in secrecy.’”
Read more here.
Local police in east China have named a business reporter wanted for damaging the reputation of a company in the area, his newspaper said Wednesday.
Tania Brangian of The Guardian in London writes, “The offence of ‘fabricating and disseminating false information that harms the business or product reputation of another’ can result in a sentence of two years. Police are supposed to use it only if significant damage has resulted or other circumstances make the crime particularly serious.
“The Economic Observer said the public security bureau of Suichang county, in Lishui, Zhejiang province, had added Qiu Ziming‘s name to a national ‘wanted’ list.
“‘We are deeply shocked that our reporter Qiu Ziming has been listed as a wanted criminal due to engaging in standard news reporting in relation to the listed Zhejiang Kan Specialties Material Company and we’re deeply concerned about the welfare of the journalist and his family,’ it said in a statement.
“‘As a responsible media outlet, this newspaper has always upheld the principles of rational and constructive reporting; we believe that Qiu Ziming, along with all our journalists, has abided by the principles of objective and fair reporting.’”
Read more here.