Tag Archives: Fortune
Marketwatch media columnist Jon Friedman examines Friday the demands that the struggles of financial companies in the past year have placed on business journalists.
Friedman writes, “For financial journalists, the biggest challenge may be trying to accumulate instant expertise in so many areas.
“‘You have to get a primer on Fannie and Freddie,’ lamented [Newsweek columnist Daniel] Gross. ‘Next week, it’s going to be the FDIC. Before, it was the Fed and the discount window. It has been a rolling problem.’
“‘I try to write big-picture things and find the truffle on the forest floor,’ [Fortune columnist Allan] Sloan told me. Sloan is not only one of the senior observers on the Wall Street scene, but also one of the most forward-thinking of the lot.”
Read more here.Â Â
Many business magazines posted a decline in ad revenue and ad pages during the second quarter, according to data from the Publishers Information Bureau.
Some publications bucked the trend. The Economist reported a 21 percent gain in ad revenue to $34.4 million and a 2.2 percent increase in ad pages to 648.5 for the quarter. Fast Company saw a 39.3 percent increase in ad revenue to $12.1 million and a 32.9 percent jump in ad pages to 161.1
The sharpest decline occurred at PC Magazine, where ad revenue for the quarter fell 55.6 percent to $9.9 million.
Among the bigger business glossies, BusinessWeek reported a 7.2 percent decline in ad revenue to $62.7 million for the quarter and a 10.5 percent decline in ad pages to 505. Forbes reported a 6.7 percent decline in ad revenue to $97.4 million and a 12.3 percent decline in ad pages to 802.4.
Fortune, however, reported a 5.6 percent increase in ad revenue to $81.9 million for the quarter and a 2.7 percent increase in ad pages to 706.5.
Also reporting gains were Barron’s and Entrepreneur, while Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Smart Money and Wired reported declines.
See the data for all of the magazines here.
Sloan won in the commentary category for a column called “Piece of Junk.”
The judges stated, “Of the countless stories about the subprime crisis, this piece stood out among the rest in depth of reporting and quality of writing. By dissecting one subprime mortgage deal, Sloan said volumes in relatively few words about what happened and why. The story turned a spotlight on the underlying conflict on Wall Street, as firms sold questionable subprime debt to investors even as they were profiting by shorting similar investments.”
The Times won in the large newspaper category for its “Toxic Pipeline” series that detailed how dangerous pharmaceutical ingredients have flowed into the global market. The series also won a Pulitzer.
Times columnist Joe Nocera won in the commentary category, while the Times also won in the breaking news category for its coverage of ousted Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O’Neal.
Other winners included the Charlotte Observer for a series of stories on Beazer Homes and the subprime mortgage crisis, and the Charleston Post & Courier in South Carolina for stories on how China is affecting the local economy.
A group of four Wall Street Journal reporters won in the best writing category for coverage of the failure of Bear Stearns, while Bloomberg News won in the news service category for coverage of the subprime securities market.
Charles Fishman of Fast Company — who also won a Loeb Award in 2005 and 2007 — won in the feature writing category, while MSN Money won in the online news category. And PBS’ “Nightly Business Report” won in the daily television category for its coverage of India.
See all of the winners here. They were announced at a dinner in New York on Monday night.
The Deal executive editor Yvette Kantrow writes about how some business journalists such as Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer are dealing with writing fawning stories about Lehman Brothers in recent years now that the investment bank has troubles.
Kantrow writes, “Part of ‘Fuld’s magic,’ Serwer explained, was ‘to ignore doomsday predictions that Lehman was too focused on bonds.’ Now we don’t point this out to engage in gotcha. After all, in 2006, Fuld was on the right side of a wave; today he’s clearly on the wrong side. And we can’t expect Serwer or any other journalist to be any better than anyone else, including Fuld, at predicting when that wave will turn.
“But why not fess up? Blogs allow journalists to talk directly to readers in unstructured ways. Why couldn’t Serwer say in his blog, ‘A couple of years ago, I wrote something of a valentine to Fuld; now he’s disappointed me.’ Instead, Serwer engages in the kind of revisionist history the media so often resorts to when covering the ups and downs of Wall Street titans. (Another example: Stan O’Neal’s transformation from turnaround genius to mean-spirited dunce.) ‘As far as where Lehman stands today, if it isn’t Dick Fuld’s fault, whose is it?’ Serwer wonders.
“Fortune isn’t the only outlet to cope with once-happy coverage of Lehman and Fuld. In October, The New York Times ran a lengthy — but impressively nuanced — feature on Fuld in which he was dubbed ‘The Survivor.’ Written by Jenny Anderson, the story came later in the cycle than Serwer’s 2006 offering; by the time it appeared,Â Merrill Lynch & Co.Â andÂ Citigroup Inc.Â had already taken huge write-offs andÂ Bear Stearns Cos.’ earnings were plummeting. So the piece, though laudatory of Fuld and the performance of Lehman — at the time, it appeared to be steering clear of credit problems — was carefully hedged. Phrases like ‘at least thus far’ and ‘at least for now’ peppered the copy and potential problems, including Lehman’s size, were discussed.”
Read more here.
Keith Kelly of the New York Post has more names of the business journalists who are leaving Fortune magazine as it slims its staff ranks.
Kelly writes, “In addition to the already disclosed Cait Murphy, an assistant managing editor with more than a decade of service, the list includes Paul Sloan, originally one of the infamous nine who had been saved when Business 2.0 was folded by Time Inc. last September.
“Sloan continued to work out of San Francisco and was technically given a generous package – once it became clear that he was on the hit list. Also said to be exiting is Matthew Boyle, a senior writer, and Senior Editor John Simons, who also technically ‘took a package’ once he saw the handwriting on the wall.
“Several others are also rumored to be heading for the exit, but those names have not been confirmed as being part of the company’s plan reduce its headcount by 15 by year-end.”
Read more here.
FishbowlNY co-editor Noah Davis is reporting that Fortune assistant managing editor Cait Murphy and staff writer Matthew Boyle have been let go from the magazine.
Davis writes, “Murphy has been at the magazine since 1998. Before that, she served as social policy correspondent and environment and energy corespondent at The Economist and editorial page editor at the Asian Wall Street Journal.
“Boyle was an editor for PRWeek before joining Fortune in 2000.”
Read more here.
AtÂ Fortune, Murphy wrote stories on France, Germany, social policy, globalization and the airline industry; she also writes a regularly for fortune.com. Her first book was recently published: “Crazy â€™08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History.”
A memo from Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer and Time managing editor Rick Stengel posted on the Romenesko site announces that Peter Gumbel and Bill Powell will write for the business magazine and sister publication Time going forward.
Serwer and Stengel write, “Peter and Bill know the two magazines intimately, having worked for both as senior writers, and both magazines stand to be enriched by their truly global perspectives on business, politics and culture.
“Gumbel, a senior writer and the Europe Editor at FORTUNE, spent more than five years at TIME before joining FORTUNE as Europe editor in 2007. He spent 16 years at the Wall Street Journal prior to his near five-year-run at TIME, working in New York, Moscow, Paris, Berlin, and Los Angeles, where he served as the paper’s bureau chief for four years. He will continue to be based in Paris for FORTUNE and TIME.
“Powell is a senior writer for TIME in Shanghai. Prior to current his post, he was Chief International correspondent for FORTUNE based in Beijing and then New York. He also served as Newsweek bureau chief in Moscow, Berlin and Tokyo.
“We think readers of FORTUNE and TIME will benefit tremendously from the in-depth journalism these seasoned veterans will bring to both publications.”
Read more here.Â
Fortune senior writer Devin Leonard writes Wednesday that Rupert Murdoch’s end around the special committee designed to protect The Wall Street Journal from his interference by getting Robert Thomson named editor of the paper shows just how naive the Bancrofts were to sell the paper to him.
Leonard writes, “As the Brauchli-Thomson switch shows, Murdoch has turned that approval process into a farce. No doubt we’ll hear shortly from some media watchers, maybe even a Bancroft or two, about how Murdoch has reneged on his promise and how selling the Journal, one of the world’s top newspapers, was a mistake.
“But don’t feel bad for the Bancrofts. They deserve this. Truth is, they were sub-par owners.
“The Bancrofts’ big mistake is that they liked to promote the Journal‘s top editors to the job of Dow Jones CEO. This pattern guaranteed that the Journal remained a fine paper, but not a great company. During the 15 year reign of editor-turned-CEO Peter Kann, for instance, Dow Jones’ total return to shareholders was 109%. By comparison, the New York Times Co. and the Washington Post Co. delivered returns of 228% and 368%, respectively. By the time the Bancrofts replaced Kann in 2006 with a business side guy, the damage was done.”
Read more here.
Well-known business journalist Richard Behar‘s opus in the June issue of Fast Company about China’s growing economic influence in Africa is long, really long.
So long that it’s the longest article ever published by the magazine at 18,700 words. It’s broken up into six parts — and 24 pages — to make it more palatable.
Editor Robert Safian writes in the issue that Behar was the first American journalist to enter Equatorial Guinea in three years. “He went into the forests of Mozambique, trailed bribe-paying loggers, accosted unsavory wheeler-dealers, and brought back a potentially deadly parasite to boot.” (Behar, who used to work at Fortune,Â actually leads the article discussingÂ how he almost died from the illness.)
Safian added, “It’s the kind of article that people like me go into this business to help create. You’ll never look at the world the same way again.”
Read more here. The previous record holder for Fast Company? “Fantastic Voyage” by Charles Fishman in the February 2000 issue ran 10,000 words.
Stephanie Smith of Women’s Wear Daily reports Tuesday that Fortune magazine is seeking volunteers to take a buyout so that it can trim its staff.
Smith writes, “Managing editor Andy Serwer sent a memo to staffers Monday morning asking for volunteers among its senior writers, writers and writer/reporters to take severance packages. Sources close to the magazine said that up to 15 people could be eliminated, but a specific number was not confirmed by the magazine’s spokeswoman.
“Employees have until May 27 to decide whether to take a buyout. Time Inc. is also said to be trimming staff at the Fortune Group’s business library, which could eliminate up to five jobs.”
Read more here. Top writer Bethany McLean has already announced that she’s leaving next month for a job at Vanity Fair.