Tag Archives: Economics reporting

Reuters to put economic debate online


Reuters will host a two-part, live economic debate on its Web site and on YouTube on Tuesday, and two commentators will also be live blogging their thoughts.

The event is apparently the first of its kind in business journalism.

The debate, which will be held at 8 a.m., will be between Laura Tyson, a candidate to replace Larry Summers to be President Barack Obama’s top economic advisor or to head the new Office of Financial Research, and former chairman of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers; and Glenn Hubbard, who held that same position under President George W. Bush.

After the debate, Reuters editor at large Chrystia Freeland will referee a first-ever live video debate with two of the most influential and widely followed political commentators on YouTube, progressive Cenk Uyger and conservative Lee Doren. Uyger and Doren will be live blogging the Tyson/Hubbard debate on Reuters.com and will then deconstruct the debate on video.

To watch the debate live, go here.

"Nightly Business Report" introduces cartoon segment


Nightly Business Report,” the daily business news television show on PBS stations, introduced a new segment on Friday‘s show called “Inkonomics with David Gillette,” which is a cartoon-strip explanation of a business or economics issues. Talking Biz News was at NBR’s Miami-based offices on Friday and got a sneak peek at the segment.

Gillette is an Emmy-winning illustrator and essayist at Twin Cities Public Television. On Saturday, he spoke with Talking Biz News about the new segment, which will appear once a month.

The segment came as a result of talks between Rodney Ward, the executive editor of “Nightly Business Report,” and executives at Twin Cities Public Television about finding new voices for the business show. Gillette began producing the first piece within days of talking to Ward by phone.

“I have a couple more in the works,” said Gillette. “I think of myself as a storyteller because I come from a creative writing background. I look for things that are interesting from my perspective. And I inject myself in the story as the protagonist.”

The first segment is Gillette as the consumer who is blamed for the problems in the economy because he has stopped spending and recommends that viewers do the opposite in terms of investing than what Gillette is doing. Right now, he’s hearing good things about gold.

Gillette spent a couple of days doing the drawings, which appear on a clipboard. “The clipboard style is meant to be a looser style and have fun,” he said. “I can also do drawing in the field if I feel like it.”

The next segment will focus on how some U.S. residents have been unaffected by the recession. “I’ve seen both sides of it very clearly,” said Gillette.

Here is some of Gillette’s earlier work in explaining the economy:

Newsweek's economics editor going to Yahoo Finance


Dan Gross, Newsweek’s economics editor, is leaving the general interest weekly to take a job with Yahoo Finance, reports Joe Pompeo of The Business Insider.

Pompeo writes, “Gross, a former New York Times columnist who also writes Slate’s twice-weekly ‘Moneybox’ column, has been with Newsweek since 2007. He is the latest departure in what media watchers are calling an exodus from Newsweek. The 76-year-old money-bleeding magazine is in the early stages of a major organizational transition as new owner Sidney Harman takes over.

“On the print side, Gross’ resignation follows those of national economics correspondent Michael Hirsh, who’s joining National Journal, and international editor Fareed Zakaria (first reported here on The Wire). Zakaria is leaving to write for Newsweek rival Time magazine and to expand his role at CNN.

“On the web side, Gross follows Newsweek Digital editor Mark Miller (a 25-year veteran who was also the editorial director of the magazine), Newsweek Digital executive editor Gabe Snyder, and Newsweek Digital general manager Geoff Reiss. More than a dozen others have left in recent months.”

Read more here.

Media being positive about the economy


The balance of positive to negative news stories about the U.S. economy in the U.S. press in August was the highest it has been since the recession started in December 2007, according to the latest monthly survey of media sentiment, the Dow Jones Economic Sentiment Indicator.

Alen Mattich of The Wall Street Journal writes, “Indeed, the indicator has been rising steadily since April, which marked the end of a broadly flat six-month period. OK, so the indicator’s level in August was, at 43.2, still low and considerably below the 50-plus readings that characterize normal expansions. But it is solidly above the threshold that tends to identify the start of recessions.

“So why does the news seem to have been so gloomy?

“To be sure, the headline surveys and data releases have been weakening as the U.S. fiscal stimulus starts to fade, as does the inventory rebuild that followed the massive running down of stocks triggered by the financial crisis. And it is true that employment growth is still lackluster, the housing market is in the doldrums and people are unhappy with how the Obama administration is running the economy.”

Read more here.

The job of economics writers??


Ryan Avent, who writes the “Free Exchange” blog for The Economist, has a commentary Monday where he ends with a statement about the role of economics writers.

Avent writes, “There is a growing sense of despair among some economic writers that policymakers will not do much more to bolster the flagging global recovery. And critics who note the limits of policy intervention have a bit of a point—not all of the shortfall in demand and employment can be fixed by government intervention. But much of it can be and should be. And if it isn’t, that’s not because we lack the ability to conceive of helpful policies. It’s because policymakers are unwilling to do what they should be doing.

“It’s not the job of the economics journalist to take that as a given and declare that America will have to muddle through. It’s their job to correctly identify the problem, and name the names of those causing it.”

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones replies, “But while columnists certainly have a responsibility to explain political realities to their readers, they have an even stronger responsibility to explain the economic realities as they see them. If they legitimately think there’s nothing more that can be done, fine. But if they don’t, they shouldn’t use politics as a cover for throwing up their hands. The federal government can’t wave a magic wand and make everything OK, but there are still plenty of things left in its armory. We don’t have to accept 8-10% unemployment for the next four years if we don’t want to.”

Explaining why Treasury briefings are off the record


Reuters blogger Felix Salmon writes Friday about the off-the-record sessions that the Treasury holds with business journalists.

Salmon writes, “Putting the whole conversation on background makes it almost impossible to turn the briefing itself into a news event, and that in turn allows officials to speak without worry that their words will end up being used against them in the kind of fevered political-media frenzy which regularly appears out of nowhere and nothing in Washington.

“What’s more, Treasury officials in general, and the Secretary of the Treasury in particular, really can and do move markets when they start talking about things like the dollar. There is a lot of value to open conversation, but it’s pretty much impossible to have an open conversation, in public, on the record, with a sitting finance minister of any country, especially when sensitive topics like the dollar or capital adequacy standards are on the agenda.

“That’s all in theory; in practice it’s even worse, at least with this Treasury. During the Great Moderation, Paul O’Neill would happily chat away to reporters, on the record; he would occasionally find himself in hot water for doing so, but he was never very important. Politico and HuffPo didn’t exist in those days, but even if they had existed, they wouldn’t have covered Treasury. As a result what O’Neill said never really mattered that much. Plus, he liked engaging in wonky Socratic dialogue with FT reporters.”

Read more here.

New to the economics beat


Columbia Journalism Review assistant editor Joel Meares interviewed New York Times reporter Michael Powell, who switched over to covering the economics beat earlier this year.

Here is an excerpt:

How did you transition from Obama to economics?

Since the campaign, much of my writing has been caught up in the foreclosure epidemic, which had hit other parts of the country first but was hitting New York with a savagery, particularly in black and Latino neighborhoods. That led me in an unplanned way to my present beat. The business section has several national economics writers and a good friend of mine, Peter Goodman, was moving on. He suggested my name to Larry Ingrassia, the editor, and he came to me in February and asked if I was interested in doing this. Frankly, I had never ever thought of working in a business section of any paper. Though, to a certain extent that’s a conceit, and one that I had jettisoned along the way.

As you grow up in your views, if you’re lucky enough to work for a section that makes larger connections, you start to realize the extent to which all the great schismic issues in this country go back to class and to economics. Certainly, in the last few years it’s hard to imagine a bigger story than the collapse of the American economy. Their pitch to me — which was the only pitch that would make sense given that I came in with no particularly deep knowledge of economics — was to writer broadly about how the economy is affecting people on the ground. The interplay between the economy and people’s lives, the interplay between the economy and race, and the interplay between the economy and politics. So I started the beat in May.

Read more here.

FT’s Luce wins award for covering middle class struggle


Financial Times writer Edward Luce has won the July Sidney Award from the Hillman Foundation for his story, “The Crisis of Middle Class America.”

Luce is the Financial Times’ Washington bureau chief.

At the center of Luce’s story is a portrait of a typical Minneapolis family, Mark and Connie Freeman, and their son Andy, who, despite a gross annual income of $70,000 a year, are still fighting off foreclosure of their house. Interspersed with the travails of the Freeman’s life, which have turned their American Dream into a ‘fitful American reverie,’ are devastating quotes and statistics about the state of the American economy.

“Luce does a brilliant job of encapsulating many of America’s most pressing problems in one 3,900 word piece,” said Sidney Award judge Charles Kaiser.

Said Luce: “The struggles of America’s middle classes has struck me for a while as the central fact of America’s political economy. Prior to the Great Recession, the stagnation of median incomes was something that I wrote about for the FT. But the abrupt removal of that cushion of rising asset prices, and inflated house values, has added an urgent new dimension to the problem. The difficulties of middle America can no longer be disguised through easy credit.”

Read more here.

Economy accounts for 12% of newshole


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.

Biting the hand that feeds you — and hoping it doesn't bite back


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.