Tag Archives: Coverage
by Chris Roush
Ben Steelman of the Wilmington Star-News in North Carolina writes Saturday about investigative business reporter Roddy Boyd‘s Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation.
Steelman writes, “Boyd followed that up by launching SIRF as a non-profit corporation with a board of directors including Christopher Roush, the director of business journalism at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; Bloomberg News columnist William D. Cohan; former Fortune editor Bethany McLean; and financial writer Christopher Byron. Local lawyers and accountants are providing help, and an application for nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service is pending.
“At the moment, the staff consists of Boyd and one freelance editor. So far, the group has produced one report on the multi-level marketing giant ViSalus.
“All of the foundation’s work is based on what Boyd calls ‘algebraic journalism’: no anonymous sources, heavy use of government documents, corporate filings and number-crunching.
“‘The thing is, in the age of wireless Internet, you can do this sort of thing from a tree house,’ Boyd said recently. ‘You don’t have to be in New York.’”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
América Economía and Business News Americas have signed a memorandum of understanding to merge their operations, creating the largest business news company in Latin America.
The combined publishing operations of América Economía and BNamericas reach an audience of more than 1 million business people and executives interested in Latin America, with coverage in Portuguese, Spanish and English in both online and print formats.
América Economía is a business news publication in Latin America in Spanish and Portuguese, with 350,000 readers of its print edition, and more than half a million unique users of its website www.americaeconomia.com.
América Economía has offices in Miami, Florida; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Mexico City, Mexico; Lima, Peru; and Santiago, Chile; and was founded by Elias Selman and Nils Stranberg in 1987.
BNamericas is a business information company focused on projects, investment and business opportunities in Latin America. Founded 16 years ago by Greg Barton, its current CEO, BNamericas is a regional leader in industry intelligence with its range of daily news, data and analysis on 12 industries including mining, oil and gas, electric power, infrastructure, transportation, banking, water, insurance, telecommunications and technology.
Based in Santiago, Chile, BNamericas has 160 employees in six countries in Latin America, more than 1,200 corporate subscribers in 35 countries and approximately 750,000 unique users of its website www.BNamericas.com.
Read more here. Talking Biz News examined the operations of Business News Americas in June during a visit to Santiago.
by Chris Roush
Silas Lyons, the editor of the Redding Record Searchlight in California, writes about the paper’s business writer David Benda and how readers like his writing more now that the economy has turned around.
Lyons writes, “For a while, I don’t think I went a day without someone suggesting David should be fired.
“For his part, David kept his head down, kept his cool, and kept doing his job. It wasn’t flashy bravado, but it took real courage to keep writing fairly and honestly about what was happening.
“That, of course, is what we owe our readers, and our community. Doesn’t mean it’s easy, when you’re under constant attack.
“Well, I have to say David has made a remarkable turnaround.
“Several different times recently, unsolicited, I’ve had people tell me they see a real difference in David’s writing. He’s so much more positive, they say. He really seems to be writing stories that are uplifting, and shine a positive light on the business community, they say.
“What have you been putting in his coffee?
“If only journalists truly had the power attributed to them.
“I’ve worked pretty closely with David for more than five years now, through all the worst of the economy, and now watched as the green shoots of improvement have emerged. You want to know the secret about him? He hasn’t changed one bit.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Mark Lacter of LA Observed writes that the coverage of the recent strike by workers at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port was poor because journalists focused on an estimated economic impact that was overblown.
Lacter writes, “You can see why reporters and headline writers would want to grab onto that big, round number. What better way to legitimize a complex business story? But the estimate should have been discounted for any number of reasons – not the least of which being that goods sitting outside the L.A. port complex would eventually get to market, thus minimizing losses for manufacturers, retailers, and the port workers themselves. It will take many weeks to find out the actual dollar losses – a lifetime in media years. Of course, there are other unanswered questions:
–What are the terms of the deal? Neither side is talking.
–Why did the union decide to strike in late November — well after the holiday rush?
–What led the full International Longshore and Warehouse Union to honor the picket lines of the relatively small clerical unit? (At first the strike only affected a single terminal.)
–Are the union claims of outsourcing legitimate?
–Are the shipping operators’ claims of featherbedding legitimate?
–How big a role did Mayor Villaragosa play in reaching an agreement? He’s essentially taking credit for saving the day.
“Very few reporters have a handle on these questions because news organizations have next to no presence at the ports. Shipping, you see, is simply too much of a hassle to cover. Sources are uncooperative, the industry itself is extremely secretive and nearly impossible to follow, the stories aren’t all that exciting, and, don’t laugh, San Pedro isn’t easy to get to. So aside from rewriting port press releases and covering Harbor Commission meetings, it’s basically ignored – until there’s a strike.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Jason Del Rey of Advertising Age writes about why BuzzFeed, which earlier this year was looking for business journalists, has not launched its business news coverage yet.
Del Rey writes, “Is business news simply not compelling enough to spread across the social web on the scale that BuzzFeed is used to? The complexity of the subject could present one challenge, something that has become apparent in web traffic trends to BuzzFeed political stories. ‘Politics was huge around the election and has fallen off as the discussion of the fiscal cliff intensified,’ Mr. Smith said.
“In a follow-up email, however, Mr. Smith said he’s sure that there is room for BuzzFeed to put its stamp on business coverage.
“‘We’re looking to do business, as we do everything, in a deliberate, social-first way, and are taking the time to figure out how to do great reporting in that space that’s well-suited for social distribution,’ he wrote. ‘We aren’t rushing to check boxes. But we’re convinced that there’s a space in the social conversations for compelling and web-native business reporting, so business is in the cards for [next] year, and I’m continuing to have regular conversations with great business reporters.’
“Mr. Smith said advertiser demand, or lack thereof, plays no role in how he decides what areas BuzzFeed will tackle. ‘My goal in choosing verticals was first to make content that would become part of existing vibrant social conversations,’ he wrote, ‘and, second, to plant stakes in a varied range of spaces with an eye to attracting new audiences and spreading on new platforms.’”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
David Weidner, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, writes Thursday about the current state of business journalism and asks whether it has gotten any better since the financial crisis.
Weidner writes, “If there was a single conclusion to be drawn, it is that the financial media are certainly more crowded, if not better.
“Blogs and websites like Business Insider, Seeking Alpha and Yahoo Finance have bulked up and and emerged as players, while established media outlets have expanded. Some examples: Bloomberg View, Dow Jones FX Trader and the New York Times’s Dealbook, to name a few.
“Felix Salmon at Reuters and Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider carved out new audiences and inspired dozens of imitators.
“In addition, social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have changed the way news is delivered. They have become an Everyman’s wire service and front page, respectively. In this new world, trending, popular stories compete with the traditional ‘important’ ones picked by editors.
“Unfortunately, all of this has created a congested mess that readers must sift through. Former Wall Street Journal Managing Editor and current ProPublica Editor-In-Chief Paul Steiger calls it ‘a blizzard of garbage’”
Read more here.
by Liz Hester
Mary Schapiro, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, announced Monday she was leaving her post ending a long career in regulation and what many news outlets dubbed a tumultuous four years for the agency.
Here’s a bit from the Wall Street Journal story:
A career regulator, Ms. Schapiro is credited by current and former SEC officials with steadying the agency after its failure to spot the Bernard Madoff fraud, among others. Her experience in top regulatory roles helped to repair the SEC’s battered image, protect its powers during a big rewrite of financial regulation and boost employee morale.
At the same time, one of her top priorities, tightened rules for the $2.6 trillion money-market mutual-fund industry, collapsed this past summer when she failed to win over a majority of the five-member commission. The SEC has also made little progress in grappling with one of its most significant challenges: reining in an explosion of computerized trading that has sparked a series of high-profile market breakdowns, triggering a crisis of confidence among mom-and-pop investors—the kind Ms. Schapiro pledged on taking the job to protect.
Elisse Walter, a Democratic commissioner, will act as chairman when Ms. Schapiro formally leaves her post Dec. 14. Ms. Schapiro, 57, had more than a year on her term left to run. According to an administration official, the White House intends to nominate a permanent successor before Ms. Walter’s tenure as commissioner expires at the end of next year.
The Washington Post had some measured praise for Schapiro (this skips a bit, so read the full story):
The agency’s resources were strained as it struggled to craft many of the regulations tied to the sweeping Dodd-Frank financial overhaul measure, some of which the industry challenged in court with some success. The agency revamped its many divisions — including the enforcement staff, which brought a record number of enforcements, including 735 in 2011 and only one less in fiscal 2012. At each step, Schapiro got hauled to testify before Congress about the agency’s progress or lack thereof. She testified 45 times.
Schapiro came to the job with a long list of inside-Washington credentials. She had served as an SEC commissioner from 1988 to 1994, originally appointed by President Ronald Reagan and then reappointed by President George H.W. Bush. President Bill Clinton named her acting SEC chairman in 1993, but she left the agency when Clinton nominated her as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, where she served until 1996.
In a statement Monday, Obama said: “When Mary agreed to serve nearly four years ago, she was fully aware of the difficulties facing the SEC and our economy as a whole. But she accepted the challenge, and today, the SEC is stronger and our financial system is safer and better able to serve the American people — thanks in large part to Mary’s hard work.”
Some of Schapiro’s critics say she was not forceful enough in holding Wall Street accountable, citing the agency’s failure to pursue top Wall Street executives closely tied to the financial meltdown. But Schapiro told The Washington Post last week that she has managed to steer the agency through its most difficult period in history.
Today, she notes, no one is talking of abolishing the SEC.
The Huffington Post’s Mark Gongloff completely disagreed, saying the best she did was keep the agency from becoming “entirely useless.” He lists her “hits” as saving the SEC, and handling insider trading. Her “misses,” he wrote, are longer and include slow rule-making, not charging high ranking Wall Streeters for their crimes, and low fines.
And shockingly, the New York Times was the outlet that put together the strongest defense of Schapiro’s tenure at the agency. Here’s an excerpt:
As her bruising tenure comes to an end, Ms. Schapiro, who stepped down on Monday, leaves behind a stronger S.E.C., an overhaul characterized by her attention to detail and meticulous preparation.
While the agency still faces its share of challenges, Ms. Schapiro, the first woman to hold the top spot full time, has revamped the management ranks, revived the enforcement unit and secured more funding from a budget-conscious Congress.
A self-described pragmatist, she has also won over critics and embraced a cautious style that made her a steady hand during periods of tumult, like the May 2010 stock market flash crash.
Still, the makeover is not complete.
The agency must now grapple with the increasingly complex products and rapid-fire trading that dominate Wall Street. Ms. Schapiro’s conservative nature has also drawn fire from consumer advocates, who were hoping for a louder voice more critical of the financial industry. She was slow, they argue, to combat a new law that loosened investor protections and has trailed other regulators in writing rules for Wall Street.
I guess the rule writing will just have to continue under the new head. While her legacy is mixed, the media coverage taken together creates a fairly clear picture of her accomplishments and shortcomings.
by Liz Hester
As everyone with a pulse knows, shopping during Thanksgiving weekend is the make-it-or-break-it time for retailers. It sets the stage for the discounts they’ll offer (or not) for the rest of the holiday shopping season.
And every day has a name. Thanksgiving, typically reserved for turkey and football, is now turning into a huge shopping day. There’s Black Friday, the day after turkey day, which is typically when retailers make their numbers for the year. Now, American Express is sponsoring Small Business Saturday where members can register their credit cards to receive a $25 credit for buying from a small business on Saturday. Then there’s Cyber Monday, when all those unlucky enough to need to continue shopping take their lists to work and scour the web for gifts.
Retailers have different strategies for attracting the finite (and often dwindling) amount consumers are planning to spend this holiday season. Here’s a story from the Wall Street Journal:
On the day after Thanksgiving, Foot Locker Inc. plans to roll out its most expensive shoes—at full price. Crocs Inc. will be doing the opposite, embracing margin-sapping price cuts, after learning a harsh lesson when it tried to stand up against discounts.
Target Corp., meanwhile, will lean on exclusive merchandise to thwart price-comparisons, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is offering special discounts not just at its brick-and-mortar locations but simultaneously on its website.
It’s Black Friday, a moment of truth for retailers’ holiday strategizing.
All are hoping to avoid misfires during a crucial selling season. Last year the two-month period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s accounted for nearly a quarter of annual sales for department stores, discounters and other chains, according to the National Retail Federation.
Anxious to preserve their sales in a hyper-competitive market, retailers are taking some chances. They face a host of pressures, including changing shopping habits due to technology and an uncertain economic climate, complicated by Washington’s decision-making gridlock and possible new tax increases.
Then, there’s the sane approach of New England states, many of which ban stores from opening on holidays in laws that date back to the original settlers. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times story:
Some of the nation’s biggest retailers — Sears, Target and Toys “R” Us among them — announced this month that they would be moving up their predawn Black Friday door-buster sales to Thanksgiving Day or moving up their existing Thanksgiving sales even earlier on Thursday. Walmart, which has already been open on Thanksgiving for many years, is advancing its bargain specials to 8 p.m. Thursday from 10 p.m.
But in Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the stores will sit dark until the wee hours of Friday. Even Walmart will not open in Maine until just after midnight Friday or in Massachusetts or Rhode Island until 1 a.m.
New England’s blue laws were put down by early settlers to enforce proper behavior on Sundays. (The origin of the term is unclear. Some have said the laws were printed on blue paper, while others have said the word “blue” was meant to disparage those like the “blue noses” who imposed rigid moral codes on others.)
Over decades, many of those laws — which banned commerce, entertainment and the sale of alcohol, among other things — were tossed aside or ignored, or exemptions were granted. In some cases, the statutes were extended to holidays and barred retailers specifically from operating on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Even workers are pushing back on having to work on traditional days off. This is from the Times story:
Nationwide, a protest is developing against Thanksgiving Day sales. Workers at some stores have threatened to strike, saying the holiday openings were disrupting their family time. Online petitions have drawn hundreds of thousands of signatures protesting the move. The stores say that many of their workers have volunteered to work on the holiday, when they will get extra pay, and that consumers wanted to shop early. It is not yet clear what effect the protests might have.
Those workers not only have to deal with being at work, but also the hordes of often aggressive and unruly shoppers. Each year there are stories of stampedes to get the hottest toy or the biggest discount on a new shirt. As USA Today reports, stores are spending more money on security to keep everyone safe.
Other retailers use a variety of tactics, ranging from in-store asset-protection workers to hiring off-duty police officers to help manage crowds.
Managers at malls and retailers have been meeting this week to make last-minute preparations for Black Friday and to train workers on how to defuse dangerous situations and avoid safety issues, officials said.
“The safety of our shoppers is our top priority,” said Neal Kleinman, vice president of property management for Macerich, which owns and operates malls in the western United States.
Many will open at midnight Friday. Like Walmart, the properties try to dissipate crowds and may even let people trickle in to the property early to avoid stampedes.
Also, like Walmart, they rely heavily on an increased police presence.
So, good luck out there holiday shoppers. Between the deals, police, mobs and disgruntled workers, here’s hoping you find everything you need and retailers get the boost they’re looking for. You’ll find me on the couch watching sports. Competitive shopping just isn’t my idea of a good time.
by Chris Roush
Startup Journal’s page on WSJ.com will aggregate all of its coverage “on the world of startups, funding, founders and entrepreneurship,” according to its release.
As for The Accelerators, it is designed to be an “online forum,” bringing together relevant external contributions around a weekly topic. It will be overseen by the WSJ’s startups and small-business editor, Vanessa O’Connell, and will also host regular live chats.
“The disruption within the startup world has been closely followed by our readers, and we saw a significant opportunity to provide our audience with more robust coverage by launching Startup Journal and The Accelerators,” explains The Wall Street Journal Digital Network’s editor, Raju Narisetti, in a statement.
by Liz Hester
There was big energy news Monday that could have a lasting affect on global politics, war, commerce, trade and just about everything else you can think of that revolves around oil — so pretty much everything.
Here’s the story from the Wall Street Journal:
A shale-oil boom will help the U.S. overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer by 2020, according to the International Energy Agency, a shift that could transform not just energy supplies but also U.S. politics and diplomacy.
The Paris-based agency, which advises industrialized nations on their energy policies, said the global energy map “is being redrawn by the resurgence in oil and gas production in the United States.”
And here’s the story from the New York Times:
That increased oil production, combined with new American policies to improve energy efficiency, means that the United States will become “all but self-sufficient” in meeting its energy needs in about two decades — a “dramatic reversal of the trend” in most developed countries, a new report released by the agency says.
And then yet another take from Bloomberg:
U.S. oil output is poised to surpass Saudi Arabia’s in the next decade (Editors note: meaning by 2022 at the latest), making the world’s biggest fuel consumer almost self-reliant and putting it on track to become a net exporter, the International Energy Agency said.
Growing supplies of crude extracted through new technology including hydraulic fracturing of underground rock formations will transform the U.S. into the largest producer for about five years starting about 2020, the Paris-based adviser to 28 nations said today in its annual World Energy Outlook. The U.S. met 83 percent of its energy needs in the first six months of this year, according to the Energy Department in Washington.
That’s three different dates from three different news organizations. The most startling difference is in the Bloomberg story – it says the U.S. will be the largest produce for about five years, starting about 2020. So the dominance won’t last long, according to that story.
The rest of the writers paint a sweeping picture of the U.S. energy policy changing to meet a new world order.
From the WSJ:
But the surge in U.S. oil production, to a projected 11.1 million barrels a day in 2020, has given the White House a chance to make peace with Republicans and energy executives, at least on some fronts. Like Republicans, Mr. Obama has said that growing energy extraction in the U.S. can create jobs and boost the economy. Also, the rising use of natural gas in place of coal to generate electricity helps reduce carbon-dioxide emissions without legislation.
The IEA, an authoritative source of information on global oil markets, is joining other forecasters such as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the U.S. Energy Information Administration in predicting the sharp rise in U.S. oil production in the coming years.
The IEA also said natural gas will displace oil as the largest single fuel in the U.S. energy mix by 2030. U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions from energy consumption were down 5.3% in the first seven months of 2012, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to U.S. government figures. That came as natural gas accounted for 31% of U.S. electricity generation in the first eight months of this year, up from 24% a year earlier.
Then there’s this tidbit in the Bloomberg story:
The U.S. will pump 11.1 million barrels of oil a day in 2020 and 10.9 million in 2025, the IEA said. Those figures are 500,000 barrels a day and 100,000 barrels a day higher, respectively, than its forecasts for Saudi Arabia for those years. The desert kingdom is due to become the biggest producer again by 2030, pumping 11.4 million barrels a day versus 10.2 million in the U.S.
U.S. oil imports will drop to about 4 million barrels a day in 10 years from a current average of 10 million because of new production and stricter fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks, which will curb demand, Birol said.
And this in the New York Times story:
The report also predicted that global energy demand would grow between 35 and 46 percent from 2010 to 2035, depending on whether policies that have been proposed are put in place. Most of that growth will come from China, India and the Middle East, where the consuming class is growing rapidly. The consequences are “potentially far-reaching” for global energy markets and trade, the report said.
Dr. Birol noted, for example, that Middle Eastern oil once bound for the United States would probably be rerouted to China. American-mined coal, facing declining demand in its home market, is already heading to Europe and China instead.
There are several components of the sudden shift in the world’s energy supply, but the prime mover is a resurgence of oil and gas production in the United States, particularly the unlocking of new reserves of oil and gas found in shale rock. The widespread adoption of techniques like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling has made those reserves much more accessible, and in the case of natural gas, resulted in a vast glut that has sent prices plunging.
Either way it’s going to alter the landscape of U.S. energy policy. I just hope our lawmakers and business leaders are able to get a full, complete and accurate picture of just exactly what the IAEA is saying in the report – clearer than the business media is reporting.