Tag Archives: Ethics

Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg founder focuses on news in return


Nathaniel Popper of the New York Times writes about Michael Bloomberg’s interest in the news operation at the company he founded and returned to this month after being mayor for 12 years.

Popper writes, “Just two week’s removed from City Hall, and in his first days back at the media giant that he owns and that carries his name, Mr. Bloomberg surprised many employees by showing up at all of the 7:30 a.m. meetings where the day’s big journalistic decisions are made.

“At the gatherings, in a glass-walled conference room, he spoke up to indicate what coverage interested him, like the traffic scandal involving Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey and the romantic problems of the French president, François Hollande, and what did not, like the suspension of Alex Rodriguez from baseball, according to three people briefed on the meetings.

“This is not what employees at the company had expected upon Mr. Bloomberg’s return after three terms as the mayor of New York City. While in office, Mr. Bloomberg said publicly that he would never go back to running his old company. And only a few months ago, the company’s chief executive, Daniel L. Doctoroff, said in an interview that Mr. Bloomberg did not want ‘to get involved in the day-to-day at all.’

“Mr. Bloomberg’s dive back into the news side of the organization has not only caught employees by surprise, but it has also worried some that the division’s editorial independence could be called into question. Generally, the owners of news organizations try to avoid any appearance of influencing coverage, particularly when they have political affiliations.”

Read more here.

Mary Barra

Biz media chase new GM CEO


Mary Barra, the first woman to lead a major global automaker, has a press corps following like no other executive, reports Tom Krisher of the Associated Press.

Krisher writes, “Barra, who officially becomes General Motors’ CEO on Wednesday, was pursued by about 100 reporters and photographers after GM swept car and truck of the year awards at the Detroit auto show Monday.

“Two large bodyguards and public relations handlers fended off the throng that chased her to the Cadillac exhibit, where she did a television interview. During the pursuit, one cameraman tripped over a couch and another ran into a post.

“A security guard said he hadn’t seen as large of a gaggle since former CEO Rick Wagoner was pursued as GM was headed toward bankruptcy in 2009.

“‘You guys have rocketed her to superstar status overnight,’ incoming GM North America president Alan Batey told reporters at the show.”

Read more here.

Michael Forsythe

NY Times hires Forsythe, former Bloomberg reporter


Michael Forsythe, the Bloomberg News reporter in China who left the news organization after allegedly leaking that it had held sensitive stories that might upset Chinese officials, has been hired by The New York Times.

The hiring was confirmed by Margaret Sullivan, the public editor of the Times, in her column for Sunday’s paper that was posted Saturday afternoon.

Forsythe was a 13-year veteran of Bloomberg News and specialized in documenting the nexus between wealth and politics in China. He moved to Hong Kong from Beijing after four years there as a senior reporter on the government team. While there, Bloomberg won the Polk Award (among many other awards) for documenting the wealth of relatives of Xi Jinping. He was the lead writer for that story.

Forsythe and Bloomberg reporter Henry Sanderson wrote a book, “China’s Superbank” that is available at bookstores and on Amazon. It’s a book about a bank, China Development Bank, but it’s really a book about China’s economy and society through the lens of what may be the world’s most powerful bank.

From November 2006 through January 2009, Forsythe was the team leader for U.S. government news in Washington, managing 43 editors and reporters covering the U.S. executive, legislative and judicial branches as well as politics.

He is a Navy veteran with a degree from Georgetown.

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Why the Dow Jones lawsuit won’t work


Matthew Ingram of GigaOm writes that the Dow Jones & Co. lawsuit filed Thursday against Ransquawk for allegedly stealing Wall Street Journal content isn’t likely to be successful.

Ingram writes, “Like the brokerage firms, Dow Jones is trying to piggyback on the original ‘hot news’ ruling by making its claim in New York state, which adopted aspects of the doctrine as part of state law — despite the criticisms made by legal scholars that enshrining a form of property right in factual statements contravenes federal copyright law. In its claim, Dow Jones goes to some lengths to argue that Ransquawk does business in New York and/or is hurting the wire service’s business prospects in that state.

“It’s true that seconds can matter when it comes to financial news in particular (Reuters charges certain clients thousands of dollars a month to get labor statistics just two seconds before they are released to the rest of its business customers). But it’s also true that sources of information are everywhere — and if anything, they are multiplying faster than Dow Jones or the court can count them.

“For example, part of the Dow Jones claim states that Ransquawk reproduced within seconds the wire service’s ‘scoop’ that Twitter had filed securities documents in preparation for an initial public offering or IPO. But that ignores the fact that literally hundreds of Twitter users — both wire services and individuals — did exactly the same thing within seconds of the filing.

“The reality, as I’ve argued before, is that Twitter is the news-wire for a growing number of people now, and the life-span of a so-called news ‘scoop’ continues to dwindle rapidly. Dow Jones may not want to believe it, but there are plenty of legal ways that Ransquawk — or anyone else, for that matter — can find out market-moving information within seconds or minutes of Dow Jones moving it on the wire. Suing every provider like Ransquawk is like closing the barn door after the horse has long since moved on to greener pastures.”

Read more here.

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Dow Jones files lawsuit against Ransquawk


Jason Conti, senior vice president and deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer for Dow Jones & Co., the parent of The Wall Street Journal, posted the following online on Thursday:

We produce scoops, uncover wrongdoing and aim to keep our readers informed on a broad range of topics through the hard work of nearly 2000 Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones journalists around the world.

So it’s no surprise that we refuse to sit back when others swoop in to swipe our content.  Today we filed a lawsuit to hold one such offender accountable:  Real-Time Analysis & News, Ltd.—otherwise known as “Ransquawk”.

Subscribers to Dow Jones’s DJX product pay for a host of benefits, including the earliest access to our unrivaled journalism.  These DJX subscribers get DJ Dominant, a real-time news feed that includes first access to exclusive news and analysis uncovered by our reporters.

Ransquawk runs a web site and “squawk” service that blasts out real-time news relevant to traders and others.  Ransquawk has somehow obtained access to our exclusive feed and is “squawking” out our content, verbatim, within seconds of it being published.  Ransquawk sells both its audio squawks and an accompanying scrolling headline feed to its customers who no doubt have a need for access to timely, potentially market-moving news – exactly the sort of news that Dow Jones’s journalists break every day.

Since Ransquawk doesn’t engage in much newsgathering, they take content from news organizations like ours in order to produce their squawks and headlines.  They’re systematically copying, pasting, and selling our journalists’ work.   They don’t have permission to do this, but from their response to our cease and desist letter, they don’t seem to care.

Read more here.

Forbes Snapchat

Snapchat CEO and Forbes clash over cover story


The 23-year-old CEO of Snapchat criticized journalists on Twitter Monday morning, claiming that some details in a recent Forbes cover story about his startup were misreported, but Forbes responded hours later with a transcript from Spiegel’s interview with the story’s author, reporter J.J. Colao, essentially proving that Spiegel misled the publication during its reporting.

Kurt Wagner of Mashable writes, “The details in question were included in the story’s lead, and depicted an email exchange between Spiegel and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In the story, Zuckerberg emailed Spiegel in late 2012 asking for a meeting to discuss the new startup. Spiegel’s response: ‘I’m happy to meet … if you come to me.’

“At least that’s what Spiegel told Forbes.

“Few people can pull off a demand like that, especially when speaking with the multibillionaire CEO of the world’s largest social network. And it turns out Spiegel is not, actually, one of those people.

“After a Business Insider reporter called Spiegel ‘arrogant’ after reading the Forbes article, Spiegel responded on Twitter by publishing the actual email chain between him and Zuckerberg from November 2012. The emails confirmed that Spiegel did not, in fact, set the terms for the meeting as originally described by Forbes. Instead, Zuckerberg simply had plans to be in Los Angeles a few weeks later, and the meeting was established during his trip.

“At first, it looked as if Forbes goofed — until the publication released a transcript of its interview, in which Spiegel ‘fabricated a story full of swagger,’ according to Forbes editor Randall Lane.”

Read more here.


The biz media fail when they cover a female CEO


Noami Wolf writes for The Globe and Mail of Toronto about how the business media do a bad job when it comes to covering a female chief executive officer such as the new one at General Motors.

Wolf writes, “Then there is the ‘Potemkin CEO’ approach, which implicitly assumes that powerful men would never really choose a woman to lead an important institution. According to this cliché, Ms. Barra’s promotion must be a public-relations ploy, with men retaining the real power behind the façade. So we get this headline from Fortune magazine: ‘Is GM’s Board Setting Up Mary Barra To Fail As New CEO?’ The article goes on to explain that being surrounded by male rivals may fatally weaken her, as if male CEOs are not also surrounded by would-be rivals.

“Perhaps that is because she really is just a lady first, not a manager. An interview in the Times business section manages to focus the entire discussion on how things have changed for women at GM, rather than on what Ms. Barra intends to change at GM, or even on how things have changed in the car industry – surely an important question. The interviewer even asks at the end whether her husband is a GM employee.

“With coverage like this, news becomes more than news; it becomes a real-world outcome that negatively affects a company’s bottom line. Why would a major corporation – especially one like GM, which suffered a serious crisis that led to a massive government bailout in 2008 – risk appointing leaders, no matter how talented, who are bound to generate devaluing news coverage such as this?

“I cannot fathom why serious journalists commit such egregious breaches of basic professional norms of fairness and impartiality. When they do, they are performing the role of guard dogs of an endangered patriarchy, defending and thus strengthening the glass ceiling.”

Read more here.

Forbes home page

Outsourced content on Forbes is now outsourced


Erin Griffith writes for PandoDaily.com that the contributors who now provide most of the content on Forbes.com are now outsourcing the content they post.

Griffith writes, “A curious ‘interview request’ arrived in my inbox today: A Forbes contributor would like to include my opinions in his post about equity crowdfunding. I was flattered for a minute, but then I realized what was really happening here: An executive who has been given a journalist’s platform is now asking — through a publicist — for a journalist to do his work.

“I love the irony. Forbes has outsourced the production of content to non-journalists, who are now turning to actual journalists for content. And the topic? Crowdfunding. It’s a snake eating its own tail.

“Apparently I was chosen to do someone else’s work for them because a company called OurCrowd is publishing a study in which I’m included as one of the ‘Top 25 influential people in crowdfunding.’ That sounds dubious enough — I can think of maybe 100 people who are more influential around this topic than someone who has written a handful of articles about it.

“But anyway, since I am already in the study, the publicist writes, why not provide a few insights about crowdfunding? Insights like: what are my predictions for equity crowdfunding next year? And what tips would I offer investors interested in crowdfunding? You know, the kinds of questions I might ask actual experts if I were reporting a story on the topic. Oh, and once I’m done writing a chunk of the article, could I please help spread the word about it?

“This is what’s become of Forbes. By lending its brand to anyone who can string a few sentences together, Forbes’ contributor network is now little more than a platform for promotional marketing posts and unverified pontifications. (Some of which have paid to be there, via a product called BrandVoice.) It’s never clear when you click on a Forbes link whether you’re going to find useful, reliable information, or some random contributor’s self-promotional musings. Given that Forbes now has 1200 contributors, the odds of clicking on a story by one of the 45 or so staff writers Forbes employs is fairly low.”

Read more here.


CNBC apologizes for on-air music with the N word


A CNBC segment on Monday included music right before a commercial that included lyrics with the N word.

Hilary Lewis of The Hollywood Reporter writes, “CNBC made a similar, yet possibly worse, blunder when it teased a story about Starbucks with a rap song that included the N-word. Indeed, the offending word played before the business channel cut to a commercial break, loud enough for viewers to hear.

“Later, CNBC anchor Kelly Evans apologized for airing the offensive lyrics.

“‘We accidentally aired a piece of music this hour during a tease with inappropriate lyrics,’ Evans said on the air. ‘That obviously should not have been on the air and we deeply apologize for that and for any offense that it may have caused.’

“The song was B2K’s ‘Fizzo Got Flow.’”

Read more here. Last month, CNBC anchor Amanda Drury apologized for using a term on the air that was offensive to Asian Americans, while in July CNBC anchor Joe Kernen used a term derogatory to Indians.


How GSK spun the media


Jack Flack writes on his blog about how drug company GlaxoSmithKline used its public relations might to spin a story.

Flack writes, “But GSK seemed to get that new plot point last night, when it announced it would curb its sales rep incentives and stop paying doctors to give speeches and attend conferences.  The announcement made GSK the first major pharma to shift away from those long-time, often-criticized industry practices.

“The timing was essential to the news value of the story.  By moving first in the industry, GSK is generally getting credit in today’s coverage for showing leadership among its competitors, many of whom will likely soon follow.  The practices being ended are not only highly criticized by the public, but also have become increasingly ineffective as marketing tools, giving pharmas less and less reason to stick with them.

“From a spin perspective, GSK did not waste the opportunity, maximizing the news value of the story by apparently brokering a shared exclusive between the NYT’s Katie Thomas and the FT’s Andrew Jack.  Both reporters got to interview CEO Andrew Witty for stories seemingly embargoed for midnight GMT, though the FT’s time-stamp shows they couldn’t resist jumping a minute early.

“Exclusives usually provide two benefits to a company breaking news.  First, exclusives ensure the story will be played loud and large in the selected media outlet, which will naturally seek to give prominence to its ‘scoop.’”

Read more here.