Tag Archives: Fortune
TheStreet.com media critic Marek Fuchs writes Friday that the business media let Google off the hook by ignoring how cost-cutting improved its profits and instead implied that it was recession-proof.
Fuchs writes, “But part of weathering economic uncertainty — especially for a company, such as Google, never known to be overly concerned with costs — is to rein costs in. By not making this clear, articles such as Reuters’ failed to inform savvy investors.
“Time got even more breathless with its headline and lead, and, incredibly, failed to even mention Google’s cost controls, which helped its bottom line to such a degree: ‘Behold! The Recession-Proof Google: Hail Google!.’
“If you can find a single mention of cost cuts, The Business Press Maven will give you a shiny nickel.
“By contrast, check out the clarity of this article by Yi-Wyn Yen in Fortune. Instead of a simple celebration, in a vague way, of a Google accomplishment, the cost issue fittingly makes the headline: ‘Google gets frugal and profits soar.’”
Read more here.Â
TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Business-related titlesÂ performed better than the overall magazine industry in the third quarter, according to data released Tuesday by Publishers Information Bureau.
The magazine industry saw a decline of 8.8 percent in advertising revenue and a 12.9 percent decline in ad pages for the quarter. However, a majority — nine — of the 15 business publications tracked by Publishers Information Bureau reported an increase in ad revenue, and seven reported an increase in ad pages.
Leading the way were the three Time Inc. publications. Fortune Small Business reported a 46.8 percent jump in ad revenue for the quarter to $12.6 million and a 42.7 percent rise in ad pages to 113.92.
Fortune posted a 29.7 percent increase in ad revenue to $70.6 million and a 27.1 percent increase in ad pages to 610.55, while sister publication Money reported a 10.3 percent increase in ad revenue to $38.9 million and a 7.3 percent rise in ad pages to 203.98.
The two Mansueto Ventures titles — Inc. and Fast Company — also reported strong gains. Fast Company posted a 36.1 percent increase in ad revenue to $9.6 million and a 30.5 percent rise in ad pages to 128.89, while Inc. posted a 21.3 percent increase in ad revenue to $24.7 million and a 13.5 percent increase in ad pages to 232.55.
Also posting strong gains for the quarter was The Economist, which had a 33.9 percent increase in ad revenue to $27.8 million and an 11.5 percent rise in ad pages to 523.66.
Among the decliners, Smart Money fell 29.9 percent in ad revenue to $9.8 million and dropped 32.6 percent in ad pages to 116.75, while Forbes declined 21.7 percent in ad revenue to $54.6 million and fell 26.2 percent in ad pages to 449.74.
See all of the data here.
Bob Garfield of “On the Media” interviewed Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer about how the business media has been covering the current Wall Street turmoil, and Serwer notes that sometimes the media needs to let readers know when there’s trouble ahead.
Here is an excerpt:
BOB GARFIELD: We began this conversation talking about the special responsibility that financial journalists have in understanding that what they print or say on the air could move markets up or down, but what about the responsibility for due diligence? It seems to me that over the last few years, there were plenty [LAUGHS] of opportunities for magazines like Fortune to really dig into the balance sheet and the accounting practices of companies like Lehman Brothers. But clearly, media outlets did not unearth how serious the problems were in advance. You know, how plead you?
ANDY SERWER: Guilty to an extent. I think all of us in the financial press are. Having said that, if you go back and you look at our magazine and The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, we’ve all done stories that say this company or that company or this financial product is a ticking time bomb.
The problem with those stories is that unless the bomb goes off, people forget about them and say, oh, thatâ€™s not true. You know, we wrote a story, for instance [LAUGHS], going all the way back to 1994, saying that derivatives were this hidden time bomb that had the potential to undermine our entire financial system. Gee, did it really take 14 years to happen? Well yeah, it did.
There are stories like that. I think that we’re guilty of not doing enough of them, but I think also people are guilty maybe of not paying enough attention a little bit.
Read more here.
The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism announced Monday the news organizations that will host its summer 2009 business journalism internships for university students.
Host organizations for the 10-week paid internships are:Â CNBC (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Dow Jones Newswires (New York), Fortune, Los Angeles Times, MarketWatch (San Francisco), Reuters America (New York), The Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Business Journal.
Intern selections will be made by the individual media outlets. The application deadline is Dec. 1, 2008.
The internships with The Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Business Journal are again shared internships with the Reynolds Center’s BusinessJournalism.org Web site. Those two interns are selected by the Reynolds Center working in conjunction with the publications.
“The many testimonials we’ve received indicate that our business journalism internship programs have been beneficial both to host newsrooms and the career training of the interns,” said Andrew Leckey, director of the Reynolds Center, in a statement. “As with all of our training programs, the goal is improvement in the quality of U.S. business journalism.”
The Reynolds Center initiated this program in summer 2007, funding internships for seven aspiring business reporters with newspapers around the country.
Interested university students should apply for these paid internships directly through the contacts at the media outlets. For more information visit www.businessjournalism.org/2009internships.
If business magazine coverage is a contrary indicator of what to invest in, then 2008 will go down as a great year for ignoring what they say, writes Ryan Tate of Gawker.
Tate adds, “In April, Forbes published a cover story about Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, headlined ‘No Thain, No Gain.’ Like Fortune, Forbes spends a lot of time talking to the executives it covers, and angling for access. It has been known to churn out plenty of hagiography, if not as steadily as its competitor, and the Thain piece edged into that territory: Thain was compared to Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent, called the ‘Mr. Fixit’ at his last job and described as ‘athletic’ and ‘coolheaded.’ Even his facial expressions were reassuring, with a grin that ‘says, No need to brace for disaster.’
“Some of those compliments held up reasonably well, given that Thain managed to sell Merrill just in the nick of time, and at a point when two similarly-troubled competitors could not find buyers.
“But then Forbes‘ Daniel Fisher had to go and write, ‘Aside from its obvious troublesâ€”afflicting all the largest financial institutions (see chart)â€”Merrill is in damn good shape… Part of Thainâ€™s job, like that of a good physician, is to do no harm. Meaning: Keep the cash machine going…’ Whoops.”
Read more here.Â
A surveyÂ released last week by media research company Ipsos Mendelsohn showed that a number of business magazines have increased their influence among rich readers.
TheÂ survey researches the media habits and lifestyles of the affluent population in the United States living households with $100,000+ incomes.
Inc. reported a 68 percentÂ increase from 333,000 readers to 560,000 readers in total affluent audience, posting the largest percentage increase among the 99 measured affluent titles this year.
Fast Company also showed double-digit gains in the so-called affluent audience, increasing 26 percentÂ from 315,000 to 398,000 readers, mirroring the magazine’s double-digit increases in both newsstand sales and revenue this year.
Among affluent readers holding top management job titles, Inc. reported aÂ 60 percentÂ increase, from 116,000 to 185,000, while Fast Company reported an increase of 44 percent, from 126,000 to 182,000.
Fast Company ranked No. 1 in three categories. Fast Company readers are the youngest, have the highest median household income, and hold more top management job titles than the readers of its competitors. Among median household income Fast Company now ranks fifth out of the total 99 measured affluent titles in 2008,Â up fromÂ 12th in 2007.
Other business magazines showed modest increases or declined. For example, in total affluent audience, Business Week increased by justÂ percent (1,385,000 to 1,410,000), while Forbes rose 5 percentÂ (1,523,000 to 1,598,000), and Fortune climbed 7 percent (1,484,000 to 1,598,000).
Wired, however,Â showed an audience decrease of 4 percent (507,000 to 485,000).
The 2008 Mendelsohn Affluent Survey focusesÂ on the top fifth of U.S. households based on current household incomes ($100,000 or higher in 2007).
Glynnis MacNicol of Fishbowl New York reports that Fortune‘s Silicon Valley bureau chief, Brent Schlender, has accepted the magazine’s buyout offer.
MacNicol writes, “Schlender has been with Fortune since 1989 and written extensively on technology, management, and executive leadership, including cover stories on Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Andy Grove, Jack Welch, Warren Buffett, and Louis Gerstner.” Read more here.
His most recent cover story was “Pixar’s Magic Man,” an intimate portrait of John Lasseter, the animation genius who now is Chief Creative Officer for Walt Disney Co. Other noteworthy stories include an inside look at the board of directors of Intel Corp. called “Andy Grove’s Latest Crusade”; an analytical examination of “Wal-Mart’s $288 Billion Meeting”; and “Inside the Shakeup at Sony,” the story of Howard Stringer’s sudden ascendancy to the top job at the Japanese electronics giant.
From 1992 to 1994, Schlender was Fortune’s Tokyo Bureau Chief. Prior to joining Fortune in 1989, Schlender was a reporter and editor for The Wall Street Journal. During his decade there he worked in bureaus in Dallas, Central America, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Yvette Kantrow of The Deal writes in the latest issue about how Fortune magazine has gone gaga over banking analyst Meredith Whitney, writing about her childhood and the fact that she doesn’t drink coffee while downplaying her stock-picking acumen.
Kantrow writes, “Looking at those pieces today is instructive because of how much emphasis the magazine — like the rest of the media — has historically put on investment performance when evaluating and feting favorite analysts. (‘Stock jocks with the picks to prove it’ is what one Fortune story in 2001 dubbed its all-stars.) But for Whitney, it’s more than willing to drop that emphasis.
“It mournfully explains, ‘Whitney’s insights haven’t always translated into lucrative investment picks’ and notes that her stock picking ranked 1,205th out of 1,919 equity analysts last year and 919th out of 1,917 through the first half of 2008. But not to worry, chirps Fortune: ‘That said, evaluating Whitney solely on the timing of her buys and sells misses the point. It’s not just that she’s bearish on the entire banking industry. What makes Whitney so interesting is the brutality of her arguments and the evidence she summons in making them.’
“We don’t disagree with Fortune’s contention that evaluating Whitney on her stock-picking record ‘misses the point.’ Indeed, this column has long argued that ranking analysts based on investment performance is useless or worse. After all, at the height of the Internet boom, analysts who followed that sector looked great. Moreover, analysts were never meant to be stock pickers to the public — aka Fortune readers. Their main job is to provide analysis and market intelligence to fund managers, not just yell buy or sell.
“With its celebration of Whitney, Fortune, perhaps without even realizing it, seems to be inching over to this camp.”
Read more here.
Keith Kelly of the New York Post reports Wednesday that Fortune Small Business has cut most of its editorial staff this week and will rely on freelancers.
Kelly writes, “Known by the initials FSB, the magazine is axing 14 of its 17 editorial staffers, including its editor Dan Goodgame, a 10-year veteran of Time Inc.
“FSB was run essentially as a custom-published magazine for small business holders of American Express cards, but because it had controlled (in other words, free) circulation of around 1 million, it was considered a lucrative add-on to the main magazine for ad-sales purposes.
“And though it was carried under the Fortune/Money Group umbrella, it was conspicuously left off the CNNMoney.com Web site when that was revamped a year ago. That raised concerns then that FSB’s editorial staff were being given second-class citizen status.”
Read more here.
Ron Lieber joined the New York Times in May as its personal finance columnist after being the managing editor of FiLife, a personal finance Web site that is a joint venture between Dow Jones & Co. and IAC/Interactive.
Before that, Lieber wrote the “Green Thumb,” a managing-your-money column for The Wall Street Journal that covered a wide range of finance topics of interest to a broad swath of readers — the economics of paternity leave; how to avoid buying a “conflict” (or “blood”) diamond; and the lifetime cost of owning a pet.
He joined the Journal in 2002, as an original member of the Personal Journal team, writing about consumer travel, credit cards and other personal-money issues, like how to return wedding gifts for cash and how to borrow fancy jewels like the stars do for the Oscars..
Lieber previously worked for Fast Company and Fortune magazines, and has written several books. He is the co-author of â€œTaking Time Off,” which encouraged people to take a year off sometime before or during college, which rose to No. 4 on the Times’ paperback business bestseller list. He’s also the author of “Upstart Startups,” which chronicles the adventures of a couple of dozen young entrepreneurs in the late 1990s, and of â€œBest Entry-Level Jobs,” a Princeton Review guidebook.
In a recent e-mail interview with Talking Biz News, Lieber talked about his career and his column for the Times. What follows is an edited transcript.
1. When did you decide that you wanted to write about business and finance? What attracted you to the subject?
I first got turned on to the possibilities as a reporter at Lawyers Weekly USA, a newspaper for small firm lawyers, in 1993. My boss used to bring me clips of Edward Felsenthalâ€™s â€œLegal Beatâ€? columns, and I eventually started reading the whole paper. I was astounded at the creativity in every section – the sheer breadth of the story ideas — and I basically said to myself, â€œI want to do that.â€?
2. How did you focus on personal finance writing?
Fast forward nine years through two magazine jobs at Fortune and Fast Company, and Edward Felsenthal himself hired me to be part of the launch team for Personal Journal in 2002. I arrived with a passion for, among other things, frequent flier miles. From there, it was a half step to writing about the credit card industry. I just sort of took it from there, wandering into employee benefits and banking and other areas that hit you in the wallet.
3. What’s the hardest thing about writing about personal finance?
Explaining things in clear and simple terms, without oversimplifying. Taxes kill me. God bless Tom Herman, I donâ€™t know how he does it.
4. How do you come up with the topics that you write about?
Some ideas come from challenges I face in my own personal life. I tend to sweat this stuff pretty hard and often overthink it. Iâ€™m also getting terrific ideas from Times readers. I look for angles on the news. And Iâ€™m trying to approach the beat more like a critic, where worthy new products or services get a review, just as a new restaurant or movie would.
5. How “newsworthy” can you be in writing about personal finance?
Pretty newsworthy, these days, given all of the current economic challenges. In the very least, you can peg a lot of your work to where you are on the calendar at any given moment. Philanthropy, education costs and taxes, for instance, tend to be on peopleâ€™s minds more during certain times of the year.
6. How fine is the line that you walk between telling readers what to do with their moneyÂ and sounding like you’re the one giving them advice even though you’re not a registered financial planner?
I donâ€™t have a problem with giving basic financial advice. And if Iâ€™m getting too specific with any sort of advice, it means Iâ€™m probably taking an approach thatâ€™s too narrow and wonâ€™t interest or affect a large enough group of readers to make it worthwhile. So I find that I donâ€™t run into this problem all that often in the column itself.
7. Before you joined the Times, you worked for FiLife, a startup. What was that like?
It was an incredible learning experience. Having access to the best Internet minds at IAC, Dow Jonesâ€™s joint venture partner for FiLife, really helped me get smarter faster about how Web businesses are built.
8. Other than working for the same paper as your wife, what made you decide to work for the Times?
I wish I saw my wife more often! The Times offered a bunch of things — the space to write longer, the opportunity to write with a bit more voice, the freedom to explore some ideas that are a bit farther out, the strength of the coverage in areas that Iâ€™m passionate about outside of personal finance and the clear emphasis The Times is making on growing the Web site.
9. What are you hoping to accomplish with the Your Money column each week?
Iâ€™m trying to get people reading who wouldnâ€™t normally look at a personal finance column. That means using plain English, writing like I talk, avoiding jargon, trying to be funny or deploying mild stunts on occasion, telling stories (instead of giving orders from on high) and redefining personal finance way beyond just investing to topics that hit you in the wallet but you might not expect to be reading about in a personal finance column.
10. How much feedback do you get each week from readers? What types of things are they asking you about?
Anywhere from a couple of dozen to a couple of hundred e-mails each week. I try to answer every one, and I read them all. Often people have questions that lead to other columns. Many people find things that I missed, skipped (but shouldnâ€™t have) or glossed over, and soon weâ€™ll have ways of highlighting the best of those notes on nytimes.com/yourmoney. I get a lot of specific requests for financial advice too. I help where I can and in the very least try to point people to professionals or experts who might be able to help more.
11. What column so far has gotten the most reaction and why?
The one that may have sat at No. 1 on the most e-mailed list the longest so far was the piece where I posted two sample, fictitious letters, one from a lowballer trying to buy a house and the other from that houseâ€™s owner replying in kind. For many people, their home is their biggest asset, and thereâ€™s a lot of anxiety around the topic right now.
But I got over 500 e-mails after my first column, where I explained what I was going to try to do with the space and also laid out five first principles for thinking about money. I think people liked the Michael Pollan quote, and I also got a ton of notes about the comments I made about inter-generational conversations around money within families.Â