Tag Archives: Educational
I spent Friday at Business Report, a South African financial daily that is a subsidiary of The Star, the largest newspaper in South Africa.
Frankly, I came away from the workshop and the discussions very impressed with the knowledge base of the reporters and the editors. Their knowledge of issues such as cash-flow statements and book values of companies was equal to or better than most business journalists in the States. Editor Jabulani Sikhakhane has a nice staff of about 20 reporters, and knowledgeable editors.
There was also a lively discussion about the ethics of sharing stories with companies before publication, providing questions pre-interview to a CEO and finding sources at companies. They hold most of the same beliefs about these topics as do U.S. journalists.
Among the topics we discussed were writing better leads, using numbers more effectively in stories, reading financial reports, writing corporate and CEO profile or strategy stories, and investigative business journalism.
The investigative session was most informative in that many public records used by journalists in the States are not available in South Africa or just now becoming available. For divorces in South Africa, for example, the only information available is the names of the parties and how the case was decided. A form of Uniform Commercial Code filings is just now being started in the country.
I spent Thursday in South Africa traveling to two different universities to talk to groups of journalism students about the joys and wonders of business reporting.
In the morning, I went to Potchefstroom, about 90 minutes away from Johannesburg, to talk to a group of students at the University of the North-West. In a group of about 35 students, only three were male, and the rest were female. Potchefstroom, and the university, reminded me of the U.S. Midwest.
After explaining to them what business journalism was like in the States, I hit them over the head with what they really cared about — the number of business journalism jobs tripled between 1988 and 2000 in the United States, according to statistics I’ve seen. In addition, I told them that business reporters often made more money than other journalists. After that, they were like putty in my hand.
The same strategy worked later at the University of Johannesburg, where I spoke to an honors journalism class taught by Nadia van der Merwe. There was one student in that class interning at a computer publication here in the city.
Business journalism is not as developed in South Africa as it is in the States, but what I am learning is that they watch what’s going on in the States carefully in terms of developments in the field. For example, there are publications in South Africa that publish rankings of the top public companies in the country, much like daily newspapers and magazines do in the U.S. In addition, some newspapers in South Africa have published special tech sections, a common strategy by U.S. dailies in the late 1990s.
Tomorrow I spend the day running a workshop at the Independent Newspaper offices. They publish The Star, the largest daily in Johannesburg, which has a section called Business Report.
I met this morning with some writers and editors at Media24, which is one of the large media houses in Johannesburg. I was told that these people were some of the savviest business journalists in the country, and they did not disappoint.
I had planned to do a short session on reading company financial statements, including an income statement, a balance sheet and a cash-flow statement. But about 10 minutes into the conversation, they made it clear that they knew how to read an income statement and wanted to go straight to cash flow, which we did.
Later, I spent an hour talking to them about markets coverage. Once we got past some of the terminology issues — mutual funds are called unit trusts in South Africa — the conversation went well. One of the things that I found interesting is that there is little or no coverage of the commodities market, a surprise given the importance of gold prices to South Africa.
Afterward, I traveled to the University of Pretoria and met with journalism professor Kobus Schoeman and some of his students. Schoeman said that it is his impression that business journalism in South Africa is in its infancy and that business reporters make more money here than most other reporters.
As far as the students, at least one of them expressed an interest in business journalism and said that she was focusing on economics as part of her studies.
One thing I am struggling with: English vs. Afrikaans. Most of the people I am talking to can speak both languages, while I can only speak the former. However, Schoeman told me that all of the journalism textbooks in South Africa are written in English.
The National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) is accepting applications from real estate journalists, including editors, freelance writers and staff reporters, for the $5,000 NAREE Bivins Fellowship program. Grants are available to mid-career journalists to enhance their ability to cover real estate, and residential or commercial building topics.
Sept. 15, 2006 is the deadline to postmark your application for the NAREE Bivins Fellowship. Grant awards will be announced in November at the NAREE Summit Banquet in New Orleans, La., during the National Association of Realtors convention.
Journalists who are not currently members of NAREE are welcomed and encouraged to apply. There is no charge for NAREE active members to enter. Nonmembers pay a fee of $75, which can be applied to membership dues. Applications are available on http://www.naree.org.
Fellowship guidelines allow grants to fund independent study, the pursuit of special research projects, or registration at skill-building workshops. Prior winners have studied green building, learned how to apply computer-assisted research to real estate journalism, and written book chapters on real estate topics.
NAREE has increased the fellowship to $5,000 from $3,500 to allow journalists pursue more ambitious projects.
One grant for the full $5,000 may be awarded to one applicant or several grants totaling $5,000 may be awarded to several applicants at the discretion of the judges.
For the past four years applications for the NAREE Bivins Fellowship have been judged by the faculty of Northwestern University under the direction of George Harmon, who directs the business writing program at the university’s Medill School of Journalism.
Read more here.
Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday a Norwegian journalist never interviewed Bill Gates and a story published in an Oslo magazine was untrue, according to a UPI wire story.
“The interview never took place,” a Microsoft Norway spokesman told Norway’s leading business newspaper, Dagens NÃ¦ringsliv.
Journalist Bjorn Benkow insists the interview is authentic, saying he interviewed Gates during a commercial flight in Europe, the Aftenposten newspaper reports. The Microsoft spokesman says Gates was not on that plane.
The interview appeared in Norway’s Mann men’s magazine and in a Swedish tabloid.
Mann planned to print an apology in its August issue. The tabloid Aftonbladet says it stands by the story.
The article quotes Gates as speaking favorably about rival Google and unfavorably about the European Union’s 13 years of antitrust actions against Microsoft. It also quotes Gates as saying he never carries more than a “dime” in his pocket.
Read more here.
I was at the Orlando Sentinel for the day to do some training with the business news staff, and had lunch with Lisa Cianci, the assistant managing editor for business, and some other staff members, including business editor Ned Popkins.
Cianci disclosed that the paper will begin selling ads on the front of the business section by the end of the year. The staff was told last week.
She also said that she doubted that the paper would totally eliminate its printed stock listings, which were cut earlier this year, because of nearby competition. A small paper near Orlando is running complete stock listings in a large typeface — primarily because of its large retirement population.
Although they had no idea what would happen with other Tribune papers, my guess would be that others would also begin selling ads on business section fronts now that the LA Times and Orlando have said they would do so.
Reporters, editors and sources are remembering slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in the Berkshires of Massachusetts due to the recent announcement of a movie being made about his life, according to an article in the Berkshire Eagle on Sunday.
Ghanashyam Ojha wrote, “Glenn Drohan, editor of The Advocate in North Adams and someone who remained a lifelong friend after working with Pearl in his early days at the Transcript and The Eagle, said he is skeptical but hopeful about the upcoming film.
“‘Hollywood has a way of trivializing truth and glorifying spectacle, and I doubt that Angelina Jolie, however glamorous, can match Mariane Pearl’s natural beauty and intelligence,’ he said. ‘Still, if this movie brings some recognition of Danny’s integrity, humor, zest for life and compassion for all humanity â€” and with luck, much-needed money to the Daniel Pearl Foundation â€” it will be worthwhile.’
“Drohan said he is still coping with his grief over Pearl’s brutal death, which was reported by his captors on Feb. 21, 2002.”
Later, Ojha wrote, “Lewis C. Cuyler, who was the business editor at The Eagle when Pearl joined as a reporter, said Pearl’s story should be told to the world.
“‘I am so glad he is being celebrated, and the world should know about Danny as a journalist,’ he said.
“Unfolding those past memories, Cuyler said, ‘You know, I was in my late 50s and he was in his early 20s. … To my surprise, he got it. He was very respectful.’
Read more here.
Baltimore Sun business columnist Jay Hancock argues that too many CEOs and other corporate executives refuse to talk to business journalists and use Regulation FD as their feeble excuse. He noted that a local CEO talked to him this week, and he thanked him for it.
Hancock wrote, “Over and over, corporate officers and directors decline to comment about anything and refer journalists to their company’s ‘public relations’ or ‘investor relations’ people. These highly trained professionals also say ‘no comment.’ Then they often tell you that securities laws sharply restrict them from saying anything except in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Which is wrong.
“Regulation FD allows corporations to talk to anybody about anything pertaining to their affairs, as long as it’s not ‘material’ and ‘non-public.’ In other words, unless the information reveals a substantial change in a company’s financial prospects, it’s fair game.
“But numerous companies are shy about discussing even basic issues such as hiring, layoffs and regulation. And even when information is financially significant, falling into the ‘material and non-public’ category, corporations get a free pass if they disclose it to the media. The ban on selective disclosure applies mainly to securities professionals and shareholders.”
Later in his column, Hancock noted that the PR people for the CEO wanted to read his column before it was published. Read more here.
Florida International University has officially launched its new master’s program in business journalism. Gregg Fields, a former business reporter for the Miami Herald, has left the paper and will run the program.
The program is offered jointly by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and FIU’s College of Business Administration and combines courses in advanced investigative reporting with basic business courses to produce professionals equally at home in a newsroom or a boardroom.
The business journalism track requires a total of 36 credit hours and can be completed in 20 months of part time study, including one intensive weekend of instruction monthly. Classes are taken in both the School of Journalism and the College of Business Administration. Some classes can be taken online.
The program is for experienced reporters and editors looking for a specialty that will help them earn better assignments and help accelerate their professional advancement. It is also for reporters and editors already covering business who want to expand their knowledge and add the skills necessary to do investigations in subjects like free trade, corporate corruption, or the changing American economy.
In addition, it is for business, government or non-profit professionals with special subject-matter expertise who yearn for a career investigating, analyzing and writing for publications — possibly as a career change.
“FIU and Miami are the perfect setting for a business journalism program, providing a multicultural exposure other schools can’t match,” says Fields. “We’re one the country’s most diverse universities, in one of the world’s fastest-growing hubs of international business. That means our students get an early glimpse of America’s destiny – and the professional skills to cover it.”
Read more here.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Scott Leith writes in Sunday’s paper about a local radio station that has switched its format to all business news. Appropriately enough, the call letters for the station are WCFO.
Leith writes, “Most of WCFO’s airtime is filled with syndicated programming, as taken as from Bloomberg Radio and Business Talk Radio Network. But General Manager Jeff Davis has hired two veteran local broadcasters, Gene Henssler and John Adams, for shows that air on Saturdays. Both have been heard on Atlanta station WGST-AM, and Adams is also a freelance columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Homefinder section.
“Davis also is seeking advertisers, aiming at those who spend money with outlets such as talk radio powerhouse WSB-AM.
“Switching to business is a roll of the dice for 1160′s owner, Joe Weber, who decided to dabble in radio after stepping back from the frosting and icing business. He used to run H.C. Brill, which supplies products for baked goods.”
Read more here.