Tag Archives: Forbes
That’s what blogger Ron Seybold, whose blog is called “Half-Baked Light,” is wondering. He noticed the story posted on the Forbes web site about the top nude beaches in the world and the fact that it include a video segment as well.
Seybold wondered: “You need to drive investors to your news sources any way you can, even if it means chatter about taking your top off. In one of the genuine lowbrow moments in financial journalism history, Forbes has put up a video report on its Web site on ‘The Best Topless Beaches’ in the world. They had the common sense to have a couple of young women reporting on this compelling financial news, rather than leering brokers nudging one another in expensive, expansive suits. Swimsuits are business, too.”
For those of you curious enough to want to look at the video, go here.
Save your time. You’re not missing much.
Well-known journalist Sydney Schanberg takes on the issue of real estate mogul Donald Trump and his recent libel lawsuit against New York Times’ reporter Timothy O’Brien for allegedly overstating his net worth in his book called Trump Nation.
As Schanberg notes, Trump is suing O’Brien and his publisher, Warner Books, for $2.5 billion, saying that his business has been affected by that amount. If Forbes magazine is to be believed, then Trump’s net worth of $2.7 billion has taken a serious hit.
Trump’s net worth is the reason for the lawsuit. O’Brien wrote in his book, which was also excerpted in the Times, that Trump’s net worth was in the hundreds of millions, not the billions.
Schanberg notes: “The suit contends that Trump provided O’Brien with all his financial documents and gave the reporter hours to pore over them. O’Brien says the documents he was shown were marginal or useless in determining net worth. He says Trump refused to let him see any pertinent documentsâ€”specifically his tax returns, bank statements, an accounting of his debts, and his casino reports to New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.”
Schanberg also wrote: “At the start of his career in hype and carnival barking, the press fawned over him; he made great copy. It’s refreshing that reality has finally crept into the coverage.” He also claims that Trump’s attorney threatened O’Brien at a book signing last month.
Doesn’t Trump realize that all of this publicity is good for O’Brien’s book sales?
Read Schanberg’s piece in the Village Voice here.
Coverage of the Enron trial began to build up this weekend. Expect to be inundated with coverage until the trial ends, and the verdict will likely be front-page news in papers across the world.
Here are some of the things that I noticed from coverage this weekend:
1. The Associated Press had a basic story today about jury selection, noting how hard it will be to find a 12-person jury in Houston that isn’t already convinced that the energy company’s former executives are guilty. Read the story here.
2. The New York Times ran a preview of the trial, pointing out that the star witnesses in the case for the prosecution may not be Ken Lay or Jeff Skilling, but low-level Enron employees who “raised red flags about Enron’s businesses and on witnesses who were privy to what Mr. Lay and Mr. Skilling said when they spoke to investors. The defense will counter with a legion of lawyers and accountants who will testify that they themselves had approved Enron’s byzantine accounting maneuvers and that any fraud that did occur did not reach the top of the company.”
The Times also has a video on its home page of a conversation between business editor Larry Ingrassia, reporter Kurt Eichenwald and columnist Joe Nocera about the trial.
3. The Houston Chronicle’s Mary Flood also focused on the strategies of the two legal teams in her Sunday story, similar to the NYT story. In addition, I like the Chronicle’s Legal Commentary blog on the trial, where local attorneys are posting comments aand perspective about the case.
The Post also has a pretty comprehensive section on its Web site devoted to the Enron trial. It includes briefs on the major players, and the major issues surrounding the trial.
4. Forbes magazine also has a nice selection of video interviews regarding the trial on its Web site. Forbes.com editor Paul Maidment digs into the trial with Gregory Markel, chairman, litigation deptartment, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; Doug Carmichael, professor, CUNY Zicklin School of Business; and Jill Fisch, professor, Fordham University School of Law.
What I’ve seen is that many traditional print outlets are using video on their Web sites to help explain what will be a complicated trial to explain to the average reader. I think that’s a smart move.
The blogging world has been abuzz the past few days about a recent Forbes article on, what else, the blogging world.
The Forbes article in question is “Tapping into the blogosphere” by Tom Taulli, and it was posted on the magazine’s Web site on Wednesday.
PR blog expert B.L. Ochman wrote, “Sometimes, comments to posts get overlooked. I don’t want this one, about Forbes Magazine’s sloppy reporting and editing, to be missed. The other day, I noted that Tom Taulli’s story on blogging in the current issue – particularly a quote of Bob Wyman of PubSub, seems to have been strangely edited, perhaps by an editor who is clueless about blogging. Some of the comments seem clearly to have been taken out of context. Or maybe Taulli really doesn’t get blogs.”
Added WebProNews.com staff writer John Stith: “The problem for Forbes here is blogger buzz. They received a lot bad blogger buzz when they published their story back in November ripping bloggers to pieces. It was open season on Forbes. Now, in the article that looks like a “kiss-and-make-up” story about how good the blogosphere is and what it can do for business, they get their facts wrong by attributing a quote to the wrong person. If bloggers are to be held to a higher standard, the communicators who were their first must set the standard by the quality of their own work.”
New York real estate developer and TV personality Donald Trump filed a defamation lawsuit against New York Times business reporter Timothy O’Brien, who recently wrote a book about Trump, and O’Brien’s publisher, Warner Business Books.
Trump, who issued a news release this morning announcing the lawsuit, stated that O’Brien has defamed Trump, specifically when it comes to his net worth. Trump said he provided financial documents to O’Brien that showed that he was worth billions, but that O’Brien wrote that he was worth between $150 million and $250 million.
In his release, Trump stated, “The writer and publisher of this book knew full well that their statements were false and malicious, but in hopes of generating book sales, they did not care. In so doing, they exposed themselves to this lawsuit. It is about time that somebody stepped forward to expose certain members of the press for what they are. Whether it is a Jayson Blair or a Tim O’Brien, the public should be informed so that they can take a more skeptical view of the things they read in certain media.”
Just 10 days ago, O’Brien was on the NPR show On the Media, where he criticized Forbes magazine’s analysis of Trump’s net worth.
The Associated Press coverage of the lawsuit can be found here.
Gary Weiss is a long-time business journalist who worked for Barron’s and then later BusinessWeek. (Disclosure: Gary was at BW during my tenure there, but we never worked together on any stories.) He has a new book out called “Wall Street versus America: The Rampant Greed and Dishonesty that Imperil your Investments.”
On his blog today, Weiss makes a comment about a column written by Bloomberg News writer Susan Antilla regarding a lawsuit against a major Wall Street investment house. Antilla is describing what will happen next in the lawsuit. Weiss writes: “Note that the media plays an essential role in the process — a phenomenon that I describe in Wall Street Versus America.
“Keep in mind that Wall Street isn’t Iraq or the White House or Congress. As a rule (Susan Antilla being one conspicuous exception), the media is not an adversary to Street institutions and regulators but on board — very much part of the team. That’s why examples of atrocious media coverage can be found throughout my book.”
The implication is that business journalists don’t cover the big Wall Street firms as aggressively as they should. I can’t wait to get a copy of the book to see the specific allegations of misdoings by the media. In an e-mail, Weiss says that one of the examples is how BusinessWeek “flubbed Enron.”
I also discovered that Weiss, who tells me he left BusinessWeek last year to write books, is a founding member of Project Klebnikov, a consortium of investigative journalists, organized in July 2005, which is probing the murder in Moscow of Paul Klebnikov, editor of the Russian edition of Forbes magazine. The people accused of murdering Klebnikov are currently on trial.
Timothy O’Brien is a New York Times business reporter and the recent author of Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald, which the real estate developer has criticized vociferously. O’Brien was interviewed Friday on the On the Media radio program for NPR and criticized the Forbes 400 list as being investment pornography.
Here is what O’Brien said: “Forbes looks at the publicly held assets of individuals who have stock in publicly traded companies. That’s just a fairly straightforward exercise when you have a Bill Gates whose wealth is tied up in Microsoft, or a Warren Buffet whose wealth is almost solely tied up in Berkshire Hathaway. It becomes a little trickier when you’ve got somebody like Donald Trump who has wealth and real estate which isn’t publicly traded, the valuations are always elastic. And anybody that’s based in the private world has a lot of leeway to tell Forbes whatever’s on their mind, including how big they think their wallet is.”
In fact, O’Brien criticized Forbes’ accounting of Trump’s net worth in his book. See this earlier posting.
I have never been a big fan of such lists. It’s scorecard business journalism at its worst.
The Forbesâ€™ list, which began in 1982, has increased the publicâ€™s fascination with the wealthy and how they had gotten that way. In turn, business journalism began focusing more on those who were in charge of accumulating the wealth â€“ for themselves and for shareholders. A direct correlation between an increase in coverage of the net worth of individuals and the increase in coverage of CEOs can easily be made.
No longer were readers of business coverage simply interested in the Rockefellers of Ida Tarbellâ€™s time from the perspective of the broader effect on society of their companies. Consumers of the business press now also wanted the details of their personal lives. Business journalism happily complied, although at first even Forbes was dubious. â€œ’I thought it was pretty dicey at first,â€? said then-editor James Michaels. â€œI thought how do you find out about somebody who owns six shopping centers and isnâ€™t on the society pages?â€? That’s O’Brien’s point, exactly.
By 1987, the magazine added lists of foreign billionaires and the highest-paid entertainers. Three years later, it added a list of the top 40 highest-paid athletes.
Writing about the personal wealth and other private details of the richest families and the world and executives is not necessarily off limits for business journalism. Some of the best investigative business stories have uncovered wrongdoing in how the richest of the rich operated their businesses and squandered their inheritances. Less than half of the people on the original wealthy list remained a decade later, a great story unto itself.
But writing about wealth simply to ascertain the wealthiest led business journalism down a path of simplified coverage that caused many publications to ignore more substantive stories, I believe.
Michael Fumento will no longer write columns for the Scripps Howard News Service after BusinessWeek Online disclosed that he had received $60,000 from agriculture company Monsanto, a topic of nine columns in recent years. Fumento has been very pro-biotechnology in the columns.
Fumento denies that he has done anything wrong, and mentions that he criticized Monsanto in a 1999 column in Forbes. But Monsanto helped fund a book he wrote about the biotech industry, and such relationships between business interests and columnists have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years.
Here’s a copy of his most recent column, which went out on the Scripps Howard wire on Jan. 5. It includes this passage: “Now consider some of the approximately 30 crops in the development pipeline of a single company, Monsanto of St. Louis. Many of these will primarily aid farmers but actually help all of us by keeping prices down and allowing more crops to be grown on less land, thereby leaving more land for nature.”
Here is a link to the November 1999 column in Forbes. In it, Fumento writes: “Why did Monsanto turn chicken-hearted? Because it has a huge amount at stake in biotechnology, and it is very much on the defensive these days in the public relations arena. Monsanto has been devastated by the backlash that the greens have whipped up against its biotech crops.” That’s still seems pro-biotech and pro what Monsanto was trying to accomplish.
Read the BusinessWeek Online article here.
Fumento has been a legal writer for the Washington Times, editorial writer for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and was the first “National Issues” reporter for Investor’s Business Daily. In 2005 he reported from Iraq as an embed with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force in Fallujah.
Maybe it’s just me, but the smart thing to do always as a columnist is to divulge any sort of financial relationships to your boss. For reporters, there’s a stricter guideline since columnists voice their opionions and business reporters are supposed to be objective. I personally have always felt as if you couldn’t write about any company or industry in which you were an investor or had a personal interest. The one time I had to deal with this as a business reporter, my editor told me to go ahead and cover the story.
The one stock I have owned — power company Southern Co. — was received from my grandfather’s estate, and the one time I was asked to cover this company — the CEO giving a speech about downtown Atlanta development, not the energy industry — I went to my editor to make it clear that I owned this stock before I covered the speech.
The latest is that one of the attorneys representing one of the defendants on trial for killing Forbes editor Paul Klebnikov has been accused by the judge in the case of misonduct.
An update to the trial can be found here.
What I am finding interesting in following the coverage is that the trial is closed to the public. The latest story says that it’s because of “secret documents.”
The story states: “Klebnikov gained a reputation for investigating murky post-Soviet business dealings and corruption. Prosecutors claim Dukuzov, Vakhayev and Sadretdinov killed him on the orders of Chechen businessman Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, who wanted revenge for a critical book, Conversations with a Barbarian, which featured him as the central figure.”
The trial of the three Chechans accused of killing Forbes editor Paul Klebnikov began on Monday. Klebnikov was killed in 2004 in Moscow.
Since that time, the magazine has eulogized its former colleague with this tribute written by editor Steve Forbes.
Coverage of the trial can be found here.