Tag Archives: Forbes

Newspaper owner to biz editor: Do what you want with biz section

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TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

Talking Biz News recently reviewed a letter from a daily newspaper owner to the business editor of the paper.

The letter, in total, read:

Wont you kindly lay out the financial pages exactly as you would have them if you had full authority in the matter and if you wanted to produce the best financial pages in town? I don’t think we have sufficiently important quotations, and I don’t think we cover quite enough departments in sufficient detail to make a complete and fully authoritative financial page, and further than that I think we ought to cover produce quite fully in order to make the paper valuable in the country as well as in the city.

There are a great many things in the other papers that we do not have. Personally, I don’t know which of these are valuable or whether all of them are valuable or not. But I know that you can decide all of these matters, and I wish you would kindly lay out two financial pages made up mainly of departmental matter of a kind to compel the interest and to satisfy the demands of the business community.

The date of the letter was May 13, 1914, and the writer was William Randolph Hearst. The letter was to Bertie Charles Forbes, the financial editor of the New York American, Hearst’s paper. It’s doubtful such a letter would be written today.

Forbes, of course, would start a business magazine three years later, but continue to write a column for the American.

In praise of librarians helping business journalists

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Tim Ferguson, who edits Forbes Asia from New York, writes in praise of his colleague Susan Radlauer, who was recently promoted to director of research services at Forbes.

Ferguson writes, “For nearly five years here Sue has been sent chasing many an obscure fact (how many Malaysians have air-conditioning?). Lately she’s helped me find data on Korean labor strife, Australian wheat exports and the California golf course interests of a unit of Japan’s Sanyo Foods.

“Traditional media, FORBES included, used to have more Sue Radlauers than we do now, but as DIY Web searches took hold and finances got tighter, this support was harder to justify. As a result, the libraries throughout the U.S. press have been gutted.

“Yet, finding the informational paper clip in the dustbin is still so much of what we in the trusted media do for our audience. Getting and using the right data help to make a brand like ours more reliable than whatever pops up first as you type a few keywords.”

Read more here.

Forbes responds to Fortune article

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Peter Kafka of All Things Digital has the internal correspondence at Forbes Thursday morning about the article in the latest issue of Fortune about the business magazine’s finances.

CEO Steve Forbes wrote that “though the intention is to harm our business, it will not adversely impact Forbes because it highlights a very difficult time in the past when all the media industry was going through unprecedented upheaval.”

He added, “Forbes has the finest team – you – in the media world today. Forbes is profitable and is successfully navigating these extraordinarily turbulent seas. The company continues to grow and thrive with powerful new strategies and talent.”

Monie Bagley Feurey, the senior vice president of corporate communications, will release a statement to the media later today that states, “Since 2010, the company has pursued its strategy of putting journalism at the center of social media. This strategy is at the cutting edge of media today, which is why it is garnering support from audiences and advertisers alike.

“Elevation Partners are enthusiastic supporters of the direction of the company and have been full participants as these strategies have been developed.”

Read more here.

Financial strain at Forbes

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Katie Benner of Fortune writes that competing business magazine Forbes had recently violated covenants of a loan and parts of the debt are being sold at less than face value.

The company went through a restructuring with the help of a firm that works with distressed businesses to get back into the good graces of its lenders.

Benner writes, “In 2009 the company had an operating loss of $19.7 million. By 2010 the company showed operating income of $2.7 million. That $22 million improvement in profitability was driven by a revenue gain of around $9 million and about $13 million in cost cuts.

“Forbes Media says its renewed profitability means that it is out of the woods, thanks to the business plan it worked out with Alvarez & Marsal in 2010. And it says the company is confident that it will be able to refinance its revolving line of credit when it comes due on July 6, 2012. Forbes Media said in a statement: ‘It is not up to the banks whether to refinance. It is up to Forbes. [We] have numerous financing options as we go forward.’

“That is technically true, but what should not be forgotten is that the deal with Elevation that set this chain of events in motion has been a failure. It burdened Forbes Media with debt that it ultimately struggled to pay, so much so that the company had to be gutted. Five years later Forbes Media’s earnings power has declined precipitously, and Elevation is nowhere near the return on investment it had predicted. The Forbes family was able to take a lot of money off the table. That’s timely because it is running out of trophies to sell. Last year the Forbes family motor yacht, The Highlander, was put into dry dock, its crew laid off.”

Read more here.

Uncovering the uncovered billionaires

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Keith Kelly of the New York Post has an item Wednesday about Matthew Miller of Bloomberg News, who will have an article in the next issue of Bloomberg Markets about billionaires who have never appeared on Forbes’ list.

Kelly writes, “When Matthew Miller was at Forbes, he was the global wealth editor, in charge of some of the magazine’s most lucrative franchises, from the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans to the global billionaires list.

“In 2010 he left to strike out on his own as a top partner in Wealth X, a data firm that compiled data on wealth for outside contributors.

“Then he left that firm in January to join Bloomberg News as an editor at large.

“Now he’s getting ready to unveil some of his new handiwork, and seems to be taking an unmistakable jab at his old employer.

“Next week, Bloomberg Markets, the monthly that goes primarily to Bloomberg terminal users on Wall Street, unveils a cover story on eight billionaires that have never appeared on any other wealth lists. The names of the bil lionaires will not be re vealed until the issue hits next week.

“Forbes Media spokes woman Monie Begley said, ‘Matt Miller was the wealth editor at Forbes, left a few years ago to pursue creating his own entrepreneurial company. . . . He’s a talented guy.’

“On the overlooked billionaires, she said, ‘There are new ones every year, so it’s no real biggie finding eight who weren’t there before. Since no one has done these kinds of lists before, maybe they are unaware of fluctuations. In 2010 there were 1,011 billionaires on our list, and in 2011 there were 1,210. Big change.’”

Read more here.

Our take: Yet another example of how Bloomberg News wants to compete in every nook and cranny of business journalism.

Forbes invests in Techonomy

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Forbes Media has struck a strategic partnership with Techonomy Media, a new media business founded last year by former Fortune editor and columnist David Kirkpatrick, reports Matt Kinsman of Folio.

Kinsman writes, “The partnership with Forbes includes a minority investment in Techonomy as well as media sponsorship of the Techonomy 2011 conference. Other partners in Techonomy Media include Mike Federle, former publisher of Fortune and Simon Ross, former program director for Fortune‘s conference division. 

“The original vision for Techonomy was a ‘hybrid’ of original reporting, opinion, aggregated content and contributed long form journalism, as well as a combination of publishing, teaching, consulting and partnerships. The startup’s debut conference took place in August 2010 featuring speakers such as Bill Gates and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

“However, earlier this year, Techonomy was ‘reconsidering its business model.”‘ Going forward, Techonomy and Forbes will share editorial and business resources.”

Read more here.

Forbes edition to launch in Czech Republic

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Forbes magazine announced that it has struck a partnership that will produce an edition of the business glossy in the Czech Republic.

The launch is being held in Prague, with the first issue being published at the beginning of November 2011.

The content of Forbes Czech Republic will consist of 60 percent Czech business news, commentary and features and 40 percent editorial from Forbes US. The Czech edition will be published monthly.

Petr Šimůnek, one of the most experienced economic journalists in the Czech Republic, has been appointed editor in chief of Forbes Czech Republic.

Forbes also publishes licensee editions in Africa, China, Croatia, Bulgaria, India, Indonesia, Israel, Korea, Latvia, Middle East, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Read more here.

Biz magazine ad revenue growth doubles rest of industry

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TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

The 13 business magazines reported ad revenue of $588.2 million in the first six months of 2011, up 8.6 percent from the first six months of the previous year, far outpacing the 4.0 percent increase for the entire magazine industry, according to data released Thursday by the Publishers Information Bureau and analyzed by Talking Biz News.

Ad pages also rose 4.1 percent to 6195.95 for the business magazines, which also outperformed the 1.3 percent decline in ad pages for the entire industry during the first half of the year.

The increases continue the biz magazine industry’s rebound after years of declines. Ad revenue rose 9.6 percent and ad pages rose 7.2 percent in 2010 after a 21.7 percent decline in ad revenue and a 28.7 percent decline in ad revenue in 2009.

The strongest performer in the first half of the year was Wired, which saw a 37.7 percent increase in ad revenue to $43.9 million and a 26.6 percent increase in ad pages to 412.44.

Among the biggest business titles, Bloomberg Businessweek continues to outperform Forbes and Fortune. It reported a 27.7 percent increase in ad revenue to $98 million and a 15.8 percent increase in ad pages to 15.8 percent.

In comparison, Forbes reported a 2.6 percent rise in ad revenue to $111.7 million and a 3.2 percent decline in ad pages to 767.18 for the first six months of 2011. Fortune reported a 4.6 percent increase in ad revenue to $84.2 million and a 1 percent decline in ad pages to 629.06.

The personal finance magazines continue to struggle.

Money magazine’s ad revenue fell 9.8 percent to $50.9 million in the first six months of the year, while its ad pages fell 13.7 percent to 236.38. SmartMoney’s ad revenue fell 8.2 percent to $17.4 million and its ad pages fell 13.1 percent to 179.50.

Fast Company performed well in the first six months of the year. It saw a 21.7 percent rise in ad revenue to $21.3 million and a 17.1 percent rise in ad pages to $246.69.

See all of the magazine data here.

The battle between Forbes magazine and Forbes.com

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TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE

Stewart Pinkerton, the former managing editor of Forbes who is the author of “The Fall of the House of Forbes,” due out in September, writes about the conflicts in the past decade between the magazine’s print staff and its online writers.

Pinkerton writes:

The staffs built up walls and stereotypes between each other: print writers were seen as overpaid and lazy, writing maybe two stories a month, taking long lunches at the nearby Gotham Bar and Grill, and living it up on expense accounts that dwarfed those of dot-comers who rarely got a chance to travel anywhere. Web writers were dismissed as giggling twenty-three-year-olds in high heels and skirts who churned out silly lists and other fluff not worthy of the Forbes brand: The infamous “Top Ten Topless Beaches” list was the most frequently cited example.

Magazine writers resisted requests to do Web stories, which they considered insignificant. Most importantly, no magazine writer believed Baldwin when he said Web stories counted in the complicated system he used to calculate annual productivity for each writer. Baldwin himself frequently made fun of Web stories in staff meetings and once told the Silicon Valley bureau he didn’t want anyone spending “more than a day a month” on Forbes.com work. When magazine writers did pitch ideas to the Web, their phone calls or e-mails were often ignored.

Though giving lip service to the magazine as the “core” of the company, Forbes.com executives privately dismissed the print part of the company as irrelevant, since magazine stories generated no revenue for the site. It was a message embraced and repeated within Forbes.com, one that traveled quickly and frequently to 60 Fifth Avenue.

Web editors resisted attempts by magazine editors to recruit their best writers to do print stories. Why? Because those writers produced stories that generated lots of traffic, and Web editors got an incentive payment if they exceeded their monthly traffic goals.

Talking Biz News finished reading an advance uncorrected proof version of the book in two days. It is an easy read, especially for those interested in a behind-the-scenes look at one of the top publications in business journalism.

From “The Fall of the House of Forbes”

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Talking Biz News has acquired an advanced uncorrected proofs copy of “The Fall of the House of Forbes” by Stewart Pinkerton, the magazine’s former managing editor, due out in September.

Here is an excerpt from the book as Pinkerton describes the scene at the magazine in 2002:

With a global audience of 38 million in Web, video, and print, including fourteen foreign language editions, Forbes had long sought to make its readers richer and smarter by delivering unique insights: mapping the smart places to put money; exposing the traps that await the unwary; drawing inspirational portraits of those who find opportunity where others see only adversity; and pointing a powerful searchlight in the faces of any who seek to exploit, mislead, or defraud.

Embedded with evidence and logic, Forbes’s edgy stories were always highly numerate, told with clarity and brevity. Like well-crafted jury summations, they proved, never assets. Typically contrarian to what the rest of the press was reporting. Forbes would question where others applauded, find the silver lining when others derided. Surprise was a constant litmus test for whether a writer’s story idea would be approved.

The payoff for the reader was always a lesson to learn and/or profit from — an obscure mutual fund that’s outperformed the market; a company beating the pants off the competition because it embraces a technology or distribution technique the others dismiss or haven’t thought of; a new way of using an old tax code provision to get a bigger refund. The Forbes 400 list, the “franchise issue” each year, ranks the country’s riches people and dissects the reasons behind their successes and failures. It has, Bill Gates once told publisher Rich Karlgaard, “an MBA between its pages.”

But unbeknownst to many employees, the company was in a tailspin. In 2000, at the height of the tech frenzy, the magazine was bulging with 6,081 pages of ads, more than any other magazine that year, including the bride books. The problem was that 1,500 of those pages came from companies that didn’t exist at the end of2001. And without the lucky push of the nineties economy, there was no more cover for the owners’ management missteps.