Tag Archives: Economics reporting
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.”
The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants announced winners for its Excellence in Financial Journalism Awards that recognize reporters who contribute to a better understanding of business topics.
Judges, representing the CPAs and the New York Financial Writers Association, selected winners. Journalists will receive their awards at a luncheon at the Yale Club in New York City on May 4.
The winners include:
Print-Accounting: magazine over 1,500 words:
Randy Myers, CFO Magazine, “Taxed to the Max,” how U.S. corporate tax policy is hampering the global competitiveness of U.S. companies.
Print-Business/Financial – magazine under 1,500 words:
Aaron Elstein, Crain’s New York Business, “Companies Play Spin the Balance Sheet,” reveals ways public companies are “spinning” their disappointing financial results.
Electronic Media – Business/Financial:
Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg News, “Numbers Tell the Story,” how banks used accounting tricks to mask their crippled state and how government agencies abetted financial industry abuses.
Wire Service – Business/Financial:
AP Business News Staff, The Associated Press, “Meltdown Legacy,” a five-week series of articles explaining the lasting impact of the financial crisis and great recession on businesses, governments and consumers.
Read about all of the winners here.
Steve Krakauer of Mediaite interviewed Bloomberg TV anchor Betty Liu about her media habits and her job.
Here is an excerpt:
3. What’s the biggest story the media missed in 2009?
I think in this economic crisis, so much has happened that the media has been overwhelmed. Some stories unfortunately get dropped or overshadowed. For instance, in the beginning of this crisis, everyone was talking about all these “toxic assets” at banks. What were they? How much did “Bank A” or “Bank B” own, and so on. Eighteen months later, we’re not a lot closer to understanding what these assets are. And if you can’t understand them, how do you know any bank is really out of the woods – and that this crisis won’t happen again?
Read more here.
A Sarasota Herald-Tribune investigation into real estate flipping in Florida has won an award from the Investigative Reporters and Editors.
The award was in the newspaper category for papers with circulation between 100,000 and 250,000.
The judges stated, “In this well-crafted series, Michael Braga, Matthew Doig and Chris Davis, of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, exposed how a vast scheme in the housing market in Florida happened, and ultimately, contributed to the economic collapse in the state. Reporters undertook a massive effort to collect and analyze every Florida real estate transaction from the past decade.
“The series identified hot spots where flipping was widespread and identified big players engaged in suspected fraudulent flipping practices. Judges were impressed with the creativity behind the Herald-Tribune’s online presentation. The series caused the Florida Attorney General to set up a state wide task force and federal investigators are building cases against at least two flipping rings named in the series.”
In addition Fox Business Network’s Charles Gasparino won in the book category for “The Sellout.”
Judges stated, “There have been many books about the economic crash, but The Sellout by investigative reporter Charles Gasparino stands out in large part because of the careful research. The book exposes the self-indulgent, risk-hungry, contempt-filled attitude of many of the Wall Street traders and bankers that led to the crisis and puts the most recent crisis into historical context. Gasparino’s work goes beyond simple finger-pointing and presents, in a reader-friendly, compelling way, why the system collapsed and how current policies may be leading to another round of excessive risk-taking.”
See all of the winners here.
Columbia University is hosting a one-day conference next month on issues facing business journalism in the current economy.
The conference will be held Tuesday, April 6, at the School of International and Public Affairs.
The event will bring together top journalists, scholars, and activists for a day of dynamic public discussion about the role of the media in covering the ongoing financial crisis.
Speakers will include Chrystia Freeland of Reuters, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, Steve Pearlstein of The Washington Post, Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz, Martin Wolf of the Financial Times and many others.
This event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, click here.
Wall Street Journal chief economics correspondent Jon Hilsenrath talks Saturday, March 20, about covering the Federal Reserve Board and the economy.
Hilsenrath was speaking at the annual Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference in Phoenix.
Los Angeles Times syndicated personal finance columnist Kathy Kristof, Arizona State University economist Stephen Happel and Ohio University Williams College of Business dean Ali Malekzadeh talk Friday about current economic coverage.
The panel was held at the annual Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference, which began Friday at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State.
The Federal Reserve Board must disclose documents identifying financial firms that might have collapsed without the largest U.S. government bailout ever, according to a federal court ruling reported by Bloomberg News.
Reporters David Glovin and Bob Van Voris write, “The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled today that the Fed must release records of the unprecedented $2 trillion U.S. loan program launched primarily after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The ruling upholds a decision of a lower-court judge, who in August ordered that the information be released.
“The Fed had argued that disclosure of the documents threatens to stigmatize borrowers and cause them ‘severe and irreparable competitive injury,’ discouraging banks in distress from seeking help. A three-judge panel of the appeals court rejected that argument in a unanimous decision.
“The U.S. Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, ‘sets forth no basis for the exemption the Board asks us to read into it,’ U.S. Circuit Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote in the opinion. ‘If the Board believes such an exemption would better serve the national interest, it should ask Congress to amend the statute.’”
Read more here.