Tag Archives: Economics reporting
Coverage of the economy took up more than 12 percent of the newshole last week, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Its weekly study of coverage found that the coverage of the BP oil spill accounted for 11 percent of coverage.
The study states, “The economy led in newspapers (13% of front-page coverage) and radio (16%). It was also No. 2 online (14%) and on the networks (8%). On cable, it was the No. 4 story at 8%.
“A modest rise in private sector employment was not enough to make up for the loss of the numerous temporary workers who had been employed by the 2010 census; in all, employers cut 131,000 jobs in July. Out of all the economic news last week, fully 35% focused on the job situation and the sobering statistics.
“A Wall Street Journal story published August 6 on its website emphasized the uncertainty. ‘After the worst recession in decades, the recovery that began in July 2009 has recently been losing momentum, but it’s hard to say if it’s just a temporary slowdown or if the economy could start to contract again.’”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Holly Yeager, the Peterson fellow at the Columbia Journalism Review who critiques economics coverage, wonders whether the discussion about economics coverage has increased because of Pete Peterson’s efforts, and whether she should be critical.
Yeager writes, “What I can say is that I hope you’ll keep reading as I try to take on these thorny questions. As campaign season heats up and the fiscal commission steps up its work, I’m going to keep writing about coverage of deficits and stimulus and taxes.
“I’ll also try to tackle the Peterson phenomenon more directly. Does his foundation and all his money make certain issues bigger than they deserve to be? Does he ‘buy the debate’ in some respects, as some think? Or do these issues get the weight they should, with or without a Pete Peterson? And do some people make him a bête noire to avoid the spending and deficit issues they’d rather not face?
“And how should the press address such questions? I’ll provide the best press criticism I can on these broad and important areas of coverage, areas that just about everybody, on all sides of economic debates, agrees are real.”
Read more here.
The Wharton School of business at the University of Pennsylvania will hold a one-day workshop in Madrid for business journalists to learn more about the causes and effects of the economic crisis.
The event will be held June 23 in the Melia/Castillia Hotel. The workshop is free, but applications are required. A maximum of 35 journalists will be admitted, and senior Wharton faculty will lead the sessions.
This special one-day seminar is modeled after the flagship Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists. The program is designed with plenty of time for interaction and discussion about the session content.
Professor Mauro Guillen will lead a session in the morning called “The Crisis: Causes, Consequences and Policy Options.” Dean Thomas Robertson will speak in the afternoon, and then professor Richard Sheel will lead a session called “Negotiations Strategy” in the afternoon.
For more information, go here.
Allen Wastler, the managing editor of CNBC.com, writes Tuesday about why the business news network is airing a special on the marijuana business tonight.
Wastler writes, “Fair question. Marijuana, after all, is an illegal commodity that some people argue causes a lot of social ills. Why promote it, or dignify it even, through coverage? On the other hand, others would say that the medical benefits and economic possibilities deserve even more study.
“Hey, we wouldn’t be serving our business news audience very well if we decided to ignore what we believe is a $40 billion industry. Rightly or wrongly, marijuana attracts dollars. And we follow the money.
“We also wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t look at what kind of return those dollars could make under different circumstances. And those circumstances are likely to change to some degree. Fourteen states allow medical marijuana. A dozen are considering decriminalization. California, one of the most influential states, is considering legalization. That kind of change deserves special attention, especially given the money involved.”
Read more here.
Francine McKenna, who writes about accounting for Going Concern, attended a recent conference at Columbia University on covering the economic crisis.
McKenna writes, “The panel I came for was the lunchtime discussion between Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz. My question to Mr. Wolf and Professor Stiglitz :
Two themes I don’t think were addressed by the media during the financial crisis were: 1) Fraud by financial firm executives, and 2) Aiding and abetting of fraud by the auditors of failed and bailed out banks. Until the Lehman Bankruptcy Examiner report was issued on March 11th, there was complete silence on the accounting fraud behind the crisis. Auditors have yet to be called to account for their role in not warning us about or mitigating fraud. Why do you think this is?
“They responded. I am loosely paraphrasing:
Writing about accounting fraud is too hard for most journalists. There are exceptions, but there’s a perception that accounting is not as exciting or sexy as finance. Without obvious smoking guns, journalists reach for explanations that are more palatable to business readers. General finance and economics experts give better quotes and copy than auditors. It takes a 2,200-page report with pointed language from a bankruptcy examiner to bring accounting topics into the discussion. Journalists are now forced to work harder to explain what’s happened and to interpret solutions.
“Unfortunately, my experience writing about the accounting industry matches their comments. I don’t wish for a crisis or a major fraud to make my point, but I’ll take it. I’ve said throughout the subprime crisis that morphed into the financial crisis that fraud played a role and the auditors were, at least, negligent and potentially complicit in that fraud.”
Read more here.
Rachel Sklar of Mediaite writes about the disagreement between New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and business writer Andrew Ross Sorkin, who wrote recently that Krugman called for the nationalization of the country’s banks, a claim that Krugman denies.
Sklar writes, “So what happens now? Krugman just demanded an apology from Sorkin. Will he get it? Or does Sorkin have the goods? What he actually wrote was that the two ‘declared that we should follow the example of the Swedes by nationalizing the entire banking system.’ Is there a smoking gun smarty-pants that’s-so-2008 Krugman comment out there that Sorkin can wave around? And would following the Swedish example mean more tall, strapping blond people walking our streets? Because frankly, if that’s the case, then I might just be siding with Sorkin.
“As the kids say, developing… until then, it might be awkward if they pass each other in the hallway.
“UPDATE: Well, this one has made the rounds today! From Gawker to Business Insider to Daily Intel, everyone noticed the meow-fest. Foster Kamer at the Village Voice, however, dug in and did the kind of Pulitzer-winning investigative work the Enquirer could learn from, and discovered that someone was right and someone was spanked. His verdict: Krugman. See why here.”
Read more here.
The Associated Press said Thursday morning that it is launching the AP Economy Survey, a quarterly view of financial trends and policy affecting consumers around the world that will draw on the forecasts of as many as 50 leading economists.
The AP is surveying the economists — from banks, industry groups and academia — for their opinions about key indicators such as GDP, employment, inflation and interest rates.
The AP business news staff will use these findings, along with other relevant reporting, to offer a general prognosis on the economy for the quarter and the year ahead and drill into areas of special importance, including the housing market, consumer spending and food prices.
For example, the inaugural AP Economy Survey story on Monday will reveal widespread concern about the recovery. From employment to the housing market, the economists anticipate significant stresses on the economy for 2010 and 2011, and they expect this to influence federal economic policy.
“The AP Economy Survey was created to help our customers and readers make better business and personal financial decisions by keeping them abreast of the forecasts of the nation’s top economists,” said AP Business Editor Hal Ritter in a statement.
Data broken out from the survey will be posted online and presented in interactive charts and graphs. AP expects to conduct additional surveys as news dictates.
Jason Linkins of The Huffington Post was one of the journalists in attendance at the “Facing the Fracture” conference at Columbia University that discussed the media’s coverage of the economic meltdown of the past two years, and he reached his own conclusions about what happened.
Linkins writes, “Chrystia Freeland is probably right: it’s too much to demand ‘crystal ball’ clarity from the media. But to impose a better psychic metaphor, it’s not impossible to do a better job reporting out the position of the tea leaves at the bottom of the cup. It seems pretty clear to me that the looming disaster in the credit market might have been unwound if greater attention had been paid to massively overvalued real estate, but the unwinding requires reporters to find out some basic things about what’s going on, like who is paying these insane sums for urban shanties, why they are doing it and how they are paying for it.
“(Also, we needn’t be so esoteric here. Are the price to earnings ratios ridiculously out of whack? Are the best selling books on the subject crazy in their triumphalism? Is every single MBA student attempting to mine the same crowded field? If the answers here are ‘yes,’ then something terrible may lurk just around the corner.)
“Not every glitch leads to a larger disorder, but just about every disorder starts with one. I think the rational response to the media’s larger failure to cover the 2008 economic crisis is to commit more on-the-ground resources to those glitches. Once you are going door-to-door on that block of overpriced hovels in Washington, DC, it’s easier to disconnect from cognitive capture and the tyranny of expertise. Unfortunately, resources are very scant to support this kind of reporting, and even if they were, it’s not clear that anyone would be very interested in doing this.”
Read more here.
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
New York Times business editor Larry Ingrassia made the following announcement to the staff on Monday afternoon:
“Perhaps no single story has been more important in the past couple of years than the economy. Wall Street’s meltdown and resulting ‘Great Recession’ have had profound and sometimes devastating effects on the lives of many Americans, and helped determine the outcome of a presidential election.
“How, and how well, the United States and the world recover economically will be a huge story for a long time to come.
“So when we had an opportunity to bring not one, but two, talented reporters to Business Day to cover the economy, we jumped at it.
“I am pleased to announce that Michael Powell and Motoko Rich will soon join Bizday to write about the economy, and how it is affecting workers, consumers, companies and institutions big and small. After a transition period, Peter Goodman will become a reporter for Sunday Business. And, to add extra firepower to our already formidable group covering banking and finance, Julie Creswell will move from SundayBiz to that group to write about a variety of topics, including hedge funds and private equity.
“Michael and Motoko will team up with Catherine Rampell, another economics writer who edits the Economix blog, all reporting to Winnie O’Kelley to provide the broad array of coverage that our readers want and need and long have gotten from The Times.
“Michael, a New Yorker born and raised, comes from Metro, where he joined paper in 2007 from The Washington Post. At The Times, he has covered New York City and national politics. He shared in the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Client # 9, aka Elliot Spitzer. In a decade at The Post, he covered the post-crack-arrest Marion Barry, wrote on presidential campaign politics, circa 2000, for the Style Section and served five years as New York bureau chief.
“Michael has worked as a taxi driver and doorman, and as a VISTA organizer in the West Indian neighborhood of East Flatbush, where he says he ‘came to appreciate the importance of heat, hot water, and good roti.’ He worked at New York Newsday for eight years, during which time he spent a month in a heroin shooting gallery and a few days at a maximum security prison, interviewing a man falsely accused of molesting his child. His article on this man helped free him from prison.
“He has a degree in history from SUNY/College at Purchase and later graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn with his wife, Evelyn Intondi, a midwife, their younger son Aidan and an hallucinogenic dog named Monk. Their older son, Nick, lives in Philadelphia.
“Motoko joins us from the Media group, where she has covered the book beat for four years. She has written about everything from scandals in poetry societies to fake memoirists to the frenzy surrounding the release of the final volume in the Harry Potter series to the controversy over a familial re-editing of Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast.’ She also has worked with Bizday tech writers to intensively examine the burgeoning e-book market and explain wrenching changes in the publishing industry. And in her ‘Future of Reading’ series, she has written about how reading is changing in the age of the Internet.
“Motoko joined The Times from the Wall Street Journal in 2003 on the House & Home desk, writing about how co-ops dealt with ‘emotional support pets,’ how condo owners fought developers when things went awry in new buildings and profiling Rupert and Wendi Murdoch in the SoHo apartment they sold before moving to a Fifth Avenue penthouse. And with David Leonhardt, she wrote about the over-exuberance of home buyers and real estate investors. In early 2005, they wrote about the eerily troubling similarities between the dot-com and real estate booms, and that summer they warned about looming problems for homebuyers who used adjustable rate mortgages and the lenders who enabled them.
“The language of the economy is very familiar to Motoko, who worked at the Financial Times in London before joining the WSJ. A California native, Motoko now lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with her husband, Mark Topping, and two young children.
“Peter and Julie need no introduction to Bizday staffers. Both have done exemplary work since joining The Times, Julie in 2005 from Fortune magazine to cover banking before moving to SundayBiz in 2008, and Peter in 2007 from The Washington Post. Among their many contributions, both were among the team of reporters on ‘The Reckoning’ series that was a Pulitzer finalist and won a Loeb award last year.
“I am very excited about Michael and Motoko joining Bizday, in early May, and the new assignments for Peter and Julie.”
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
The Huffington Post used three methods of covering the economic crisis — aggregating content from other media, what its bloggers wrote and reporting by its small staff, said founder Arianna Huffington on Tuesday.
Aggregated stories would have paragraphs highlighted, or “splashed” on the site. ”By splashing it, we immediately give it value,” said Huffington. “It gives it a kind of resonance that it doesn’t have.”
Huffington Post has about 3,000 bloggers who have their own password and can post on their site. Then editors decide which ones to put on the front page.
As for the small reporting team in Washington and New York, “We would discuss with them what they are going to be covering,” said Huffington.
Huffington was speaking Tuesday at a conference called “Facing the Fracture” at Columbia University on coverage of the economic crisis.
One of the issues with the coverage was the concern among regulators as to how media would impact Wall Street companies in trouble.
“There was this immediate fear that Wall Street was going to collapse because of the coverage,” said Huffington, likening Wall Street firms to Victorian ladies who would faint at the drop of a hat.
Another concern was using economists and regulators as sources who were extremely detailed in their explanations of what was happening.
“This was so overwhelming that whetever the experts said should go,” said Huffington. “So it was a constant battle to not have the experts hide behind the complexity.”