Tag Archives: Ethics


Only positive Maine biz news on this website


Paul Koenig of The Kennebec Journal in Maine reports that the state’s chamber of commerce has signed a deal with a website, JustGOODNews.BIZ, to report good business news about Maine.

Koenig writes, “The company, JustGOODNews.BIZ, publishes a mix of stores from local and state organizations like the state chamber, as well as summaries of stories pulled from media outlets such as newspapers and TV stations.

“The partnership means the Maine State Chamber of Commerce will feature a feed of Maine-based stories on its website and will contribute news to JustGOODNews.BIZ, according to Kris Rush, founder and CEO of the company.

“Rush launched the Oklahoma City-based company in May after running a similar program at the State Chamber of Oklahoma, where her husband was president for more than 20 years.

“She said she started the company to spread positive business news about local communities to a wider audience.

“Connors said an example of the positive news the state chamber wants to publicize is that  J.S. McCarthy Printers recently hired 80 full-time seasonal workers for its upcoming greeting card season, more than double the usual 35 workers it hires for the season.”

Read more here.

Reuters Logo

Longtime Reuters staffer questions order to pick up competitor scoops


One of Reuters’ most experienced and longest-serving correspondents has challenged an editor’s order to pick up scoops scored by the opposition, reports The Baron, a site that tracks Reuters.

The Baron writes, “Jim Gaines, the news agency’s editor for The Americas, recently issued the following instruction on The Hub, its internal communications system: ‘When a legitimate rival (anyone from our big-media competitors to authoritative blogs) gets a solid scoop that will either move a stock or be likely to influence traders and investors in your patch, you must pick it up immediately, with snaps if it’s a possible stock-mover. Then you should put out calls to sources and otherwise reach out for help.’

“He acknowledged that ‘Our financial clients pay us to give them news no one else has, of course, but they also count on us to tell them quickly about hot news from our rivals that will either move a stock – or even the market – or drive the conversation. When we delay news on a big story because we want to match it first or for whatever reason, we have denied our clients the best information available and so failed them and ourselves.

“‘Even in cases where a rival builds on one of our biggest scoops and takes it forward only incrementally, we should pick it up, then showcase our own earlier reporting with a link,’ he said.

“‘The temptation to dismiss a scoop out of pride, in other words, should be a warning sign that we’re about to make a major mistake. Our customers come first, even when it hurts.’

“Gaines is a former editor of US magazines Time, Life and People. Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler hired him in April 2011 as global editor for ethics, standards and innovation.

Bob Evans, a 50-year veteran correspondent and bureau chief now working as a consultant to Reuters, questioned the instruction as a major departure from long-established Reuters news practice and ‘ethically dubious.’”

Read more here.


Exclusive scoop on Amazon, or false rumor?


Will Oremus of Slate writes about a scoop regarding Amazon.com reported by former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin that was later retracted with another story on her website without it stating that it was a correction to an earlier story.

Oremus writes, “The follow-up was not framed as a correction or retraction. It was framed as a fresh scoop. “The statement is the first time that Amazon has said it will not offer a phone this year, addressing long-running reports it has been working on one,” Efrati wrote. This post, too, made the rounds, and Lessin once again tweeted it with a tip to Techmeme. This time the tech-news board appears not to have linked to Lessin’s site, instead highlighting posts on the Verge and other tech sites that referenced Lessin’s self-debunking. Still, her site is the primary source.

“What’s interesting to me is not that Lessin and Efrati reported on rumors that turned out to be wrong. Every journalist, including me and my Slate colleagues, gets things wrong sometimes. And in an online-news landscape that is more competitive and faster-moving than ever, it stands to reason that we’d see both more false rumors published and quicker debunkings of those false rumors than we did in the old days.

“But as I read Lessin and Efrati’s unapologetic follow-up—no “regret the error” here—a question occurred to me: Do the writers of a piece like this in fact regret running with the rumor in the first place? Or might the whole thing turn out to be a net positive for them and their site? After all, a lot of people who might not have known the site existed are now aware of it as a possible source of hot industry gossip, if not necessarily bankable information.”

Read more here.

Thomson Reuters logo

Thomson Reuters gave data to 16 firms early


Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone writes that a whistleblower complaint has been filed to the SEC identifying 16 of the world’s biggest banks and hedge funds as the allegedly even-earlier recipients of key economic data from Thomson Reuters. The complaint alleges that this select group of customers received the data anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour ahead of the rest of the markets.

Taibbi reports, “The identity of these 16 firms has not been made public yet, but sources describe the firms as major financial institutions, many of them well-known to the general public. Their inclusion in this case would significantly expand the scope of the scandal.

“Contacted by Rolling Stone today, the SEC declined to comment on the status of the case.

“This is a complicated story and some background is probably necessary to explain what’s going on.

“The case became public thanks to a wrongful termination suit filed in April by a former Thomson Reuters employee named Mark Rosenblum. Rosenblum sold financial data for Thomson Reuters between 2005 and 2012 (he also had previously worked for the firm between 1998 and 2000). During the course of his job, Rosenblum became aware that Thomson Reuters was distributing access to a set of key economic numbers, the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers, in what he thought was an unusual fashion.

“The survey, which gauges how American consumers feel about the economy, is an important indicator that financiers look at when making investment decisions about the U.S. economy. Among other things, the Federal Reserve looks at the Michigan Survey when it determines monetary policy. Any investor who knew the survey results in advance would have an inside advantage over other investors in the market.

“Rosenblum learned that his employers at Thomson Reuters, who had a contract with the University of Michigan to release the data, were releasing the data in three “tiers.”

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Biz editor running for mayor decides to stop writing articles


Jan Moore, the business editor of the Statesboro Herald in Georgia, says she will no longer write articles for the paper now that she has announced that she is running for mayor.

Moore writes, “I am extremely excited about campaigning for the office and sharing my vision for this wonderful city going forward. However, with that commitment, I knew that I would not be able to continue writing the weekly feature business article in Tuesday’s business section.

“The article about Farmers & Merchants Bank will be my last for the duration of the election cycle and maybe permanently depending on the results. I will continue to write my weekly column.

“I have been writing these articles week in and week out for almost 10 years, and it has been a tremendous source of pleasure for me. As a wife and a mother, I know the excitement, pride, and joy that I feel when I talk about my children and my husband.

“I have seen that same joy and excitement in the faces of business owners and professionals that I have interviewed over the years as they talk about their companies, their organizations, and their staff as if they were family. It rejuvenates me every week knowing the quality and caliber of business owners that make up our community.”

Read more here.


Is the WSJ guilty of plagiarism?


Dylan Byers and Hadas Gold of Politico write about allegations of plagiarism levied by Daniel Flynn, a conservative author and columnist, against The Wall Street Journal.

Byers and Gold write, “What followed was a battle between Flynn and the Journal that ultimately resulted in Flynn publicly accusing the Journal and author Max Boot — a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and the Los Angeles Times — of plagiarism. In a column for The American Spectator published Friday, Flynn claimed that Boot’s article “freeloaded” the “research, structure, and ideas” from his work.

“Boot and representatives from the Journal deny that charge, and both Boot and his research assistant say they had no knowledge of Flynn or his work until they received inquiries from POLITICO. This was simply an instance of two writers with a similar viewpoint on an issue marshaling the limited set of facts and arguments available to make their case, Boot said.

“In an email on Thursday night, Boot threatened to take legal action against POLITICO if it printed Flynn’s ‘scurrilous and unsubstantiated allegations.’

“The entire episode, as outlined in extensive email correspondence and notes provided to POLITICO by both Flynn and Boot, offers a unique window into a very complicated fight that has left both parties feeling unfairly treated by the other side. It also sheds some light on how editors at the Journal handle the process of freelance submissions.”

Read more here.

Should Bloomberg cover itself?


As has been reported earlier Wednesday, Bloomberg published a pair of independent reports that reviewed the company’s practices in light of the snooping scandal earlier this year.

Talking Biz News has had a chance to review the reports this afternoon, and discovered that the report by former New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt – who recently has been working for Bloomberg News as an editor — was critical of many aspects of the wire service’s coverage.

For example, Hoyt was critical of the use of former employers in headlines, such as “Ex-Goldmanite Trades on Girl Power of Stiletto Networks: Review.” Hoyt noted that the person in question was last connected to Goldman Sachs 11 years ago as a low-ranking associate.

Hoyt was also critical of a story publshed Dec. 27, 2011 that compared the Nazi attack on Cassino, Italy in World War II to a bond deal for the city gone sour that involved JP Morgan.

“To suggest that a bond deal gone sour, curtailing daycare for 60 children and services for the poor is comparable to the terror and cataclysm of war is inconsistent with BN’s high standards,” stated Hoyt’s report.

Hoyt also found that Bloomberg’s practice of not reporting on itself was not always followed, and he recommended that the wire service begin doing so.

“BN has sometimes covered the Company, including areas where the Company has commercial interests,” Hoyt’s report stated. “For example, BN has lawsuits involving the Company, including News’ use of the Freedom of Information Act.”

The report also noted that Bloomberg, when covering rules for the clearing of swaps and swaps futures, gave more coverage of the issue that its competitors to an issue in which it has a financial interest. Bloomberg has applied to operate a swaps execution facility.

“Senior BN and Bloomberg management should review the practice of not covering the Company,” stated Hoyt’s report. “Because BN has not followed the practice consistently, Mr. Hoyt’s preferred course would be for BN to initiate coverage of the Company, stipulating what will and won’t be covered.”

Unlike other Hoyt recommendations, which Bloomberg’s management accepted, the company said a review of the practice of covering itself will be undertaken.


Bloomberg keyboard

Bloomberg to appoint ombudsman, create task force


Lauren Tara LaCapra of Reuters reports that Bloomberg LP will appoint an ombudsman and create a task force to review the way the company gathers news after a report confirmed its journalists routinely looked at client information intended for customer support employees.

LaCapra writes, “The report, which Bloomberg commissioned and released on Wednesday, found that journalists could gain access to data including clients’ log-in history, contact information and messages that customers left when they were moving firms.

“Reporters could also get into anonymous chat rooms set up for commodities traders, who were never explicitly told that journalists could see their chats, according to the report from consulting firm Promontory Financial Group and law firm Hogan Lovells.

“While the practice of journalists getting access to client data and chat rooms raised questions among some customers, it is not illegal.

“Bloomberg blocked reporter access to the data in April 2013 after a customer complained.

“A separate review by Clark Hoyt, a former public editor at the New York Times, also commissioned by Bloomberg and released on Wednesday focused on recommendations to ensure the company’s commercial and news gathering operations were sufficiently independent.”

Read more here.

Bloomberg terminal

Review chronicles Bloomberg’s missteps


An outside review of Bloomberg LP’s data compliance and news reporting revealed that the financial data and news provider didn’t curtail reporters’ access to subscriber data two years ago, when concerns about the access first emerged, due to internal “misunderstandings,” reports William Laudner of The Wall Street Journal.

Laudner writes, “The review, by Promontory Financial Group and law firm Hogan Lovells, didn’t point to any evidence of widespread abuse of customer data by Bloomberg News. It concluded that ‘a number of journalists’ used subscriber data in the course of their reporting, such as for looking up contact information, but it identified only two occasions where subscriber information or other sensitive data was clearly reflected in stories.

“In one of those examples, journalists reported on the pricing of a mortgage backed security offering using data on Bloomberg’s financial terminals that wasn’t available to all subscribers, the report found. Bloomberg said the reporter and editor responsible for the story didn’t know the data wasn’t available to all users. In the other, in 2011, a Bloomberg television reporter revealed on-air that he had used subscriber information available to Bloomberg journalists to report on rogue UBS trader Kweku Adoboli.

“The report, which former IBM Chairman  Samuel Palmisano advised on, and a separate study about newsroom practices by Clark Hoyt, who is a Bloomberg editor and a former New York Times public editor, will be released to Bloomberg clients and the public on Wednesday morning. Both reports were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

“The reports recommended a series of steps to improve company practices, which Bloomberg has agreed to adopt.

“These include that the firm hire a chief risk and compliance officer and the appointment of a standards editor, as well as the creation of separate editor and ‘task force’ positions that are independent of the newsroom and that will focus on issues like external complaints and best practices, Bloomberg said.  Bloomberg also agreed to institute third-party audits into data practices and to take steps to better separate the company’s commercial and news divisions.”

Read more here.

CNET screen

CNET sells reporter’s review to company as an ad


Tech news site CNET has sold a reporter’s review of a Samsung phone to the company eight months after it was published as an ad, reports Brian Morrissey of Digiday.

Morrissey writes, “This past April, CNET senior editor Jessica Dolcourt reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. Under the headline ‘The everything phone for (almost) everyone,’ the CNET veteran journalist gave the device 4.5/5 stars in a detailed, mostly positive review. She did have reservations about the Galaxy S4’s dim screen and ‘cheaper look’ compared to rivals like the iPhone.

“Fast forward eight months: Dolcourt’s review is now part of a new advertising product CNET sold to Samsung, which purchased the right to promote the editorial review through ‘CNET Replay.’ Visitors to CNET yesterday saw a paid promotion of the review on the homepage, in the midst of the site’s ‘river’ of editorial pieces, called out in a shaded box with a ‘CNET Replay’ label on the thumbnail photo. Clicking on the advertising link takes users to the original review.

“Welcome to the brave new world of native advertising, where publishers are trying to come up with twists that go beyond standard ads and that carry the whiff of editorial credibility. For an advertiser like Samsung, the (mostly) positive CNET review is probably worth more than a display ad bought on the site. CNET Replay has enabled Samsung, Intel, Microsoft and Lenovo to promote positive reviews for their products long after they were published.

“‘More and more, consumers are seeking guidance from trusted third parties,’ Kevin Berman, director of North American marketing for Lenovo, said in a statement. ‘Some look for what other consumers are saying, while many rely on well-respected industry experts for their help.’”

Read more here.