Tag Archives: Fortune
by Chris Roush
New York magazine writer Mark Fass takes a look at the upcoming debut of Conde Nast Portfolio and examines all of the hurdles that it has had to overcome.
Fass wrote, “But given the dark cloud over the industry right now, a lot of her competitors are hoping that Lipman will failâ€”the Schadenfreude Squad, Portfolio deputy editor Amy Stevens, whoâ€™s also from the Journal, calls them. Sour journalists rooting for a fall from grace. Between the magazineâ€™s frenzy of big-ticket hiring (75 people, from places like the Times, the Journal, Time, and Vanity Fair) and her reputation as being, as Stevens delicately puts it, ‘exacting,’ thereâ€™s a lot of resentment out there. How could CondÃ© Nast do this now? Just who does Lipman think she is?
“In 2004, CondÃ© Nast tested two magazines: an art-and-culture project proposed by thenâ€“editorial director James Truman and a lush yet manly business magazine that the suits at the company thought was a good idea. And, according to the companyâ€™s chairman, Si Newhouse, the data ‘showed that there was the potential for a magazine that covered business intelligently in a style we were ready to bring to the table.’ Trumanâ€™s idea apparently didnâ€™t do as well, and by January 2005, he quit the company. Lipman had lunch with Newhouse in June and was hired by August.
“‘Portfolio’s an important position to take. Itâ€™s an important launch,’ says Newhouse, who agreed to be interviewed because, given the negativity of the industry right now, talking about it ‘just seemed like the right thing to do.’ Even the aloof billionaire has to pitch in to sell this thing.
“Portfolio promises to be different enough from its rivalsâ€”Fortune, Forbes, Business 2.0, Fast Companyâ€”to sell ads when they canâ€™t seem to anymore.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Fortune at-large editor Carol Loomis takes a look at the Bloomberg LP empire that includes its news wire service in the latest issue of the magazine and comes away impressed with its operations.
In addition, his decision not to sell the company apparently meant a reprieve for the Bloomberg Television operations.
Loomis wrote, “Fortune’s estimate, derived from many interviews outside the company as well as in, is that the company’s 2006 operating profits (that is, before taxes) were about $1.5 billion. That put the company’s operating margin a bit above 30 percent of revenues. That margin doesn’t match Microsoft’s (about 37 percent), but it is way above Apple’s (Charts), which has been running under 15 percent. And none of Bloomberg’s most visible competitors in financial information – Dow Jones (Charts), Reuters (Charts), and the Thomson Financial unit of Thomson Corp (Charts). – have operating margins that reach 20 percent.
“Mike Bloomberg is enormously and justifiably proud of Bloomberg LP. He nonetheless recently considered selling it. A sale, of course, would sweep in the other shareholders, who include (a) a few people who started the company with Mike and (b) Merrill Lynch, which helped finance it along the way and owns 20 percent of it (a large fact that goes completely unmentioned in Merrill’s financial statements). But having tight control, Mike engaged last year in small discussions with at least a few possible buyers. Among them were private-equity firms that are rolling in cash and would no doubt kill to get hold of this property.
“However, the proprietor emerged from his excursion deciding not to sell just now, giving no further explanation. The news sent waves of jubilation through the company’s offices, since few think another owner could match Mike. In particular, the television staff at Bloomberg – 650 people – breathed sighs of relief, because the perception is that new private-equity owners would immediately cut expenses by exiting the costly TV business. Mike Bloomberg, on the other hand, has always thought TV good for the Bloomberg brand.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Billionaire Sam Zell’s pending acquisition of the Tribune Co. for $8.2 billion means that the business desks of some of the top newspapers in the country will have a new boss.
And the business news sections of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and The Sun-Sentinel in South Florida are among the best in the industry, as illustrated by their SABEW Best in Business awards in recent years.
I’m going to take a view that this change in ownership means good things for business news coverage at these papers. Zell has owned media companies in the past, and there is no indication that he ever meddled in their news-gathering functions. In comparison, those who were running the Tribune were making cuts to the business sections at these papers, most notably in the form of less space for stock listings and not filling open reporter and editor slots.
In addition, I am going to assume that Zell won’t turn around and flip the operations in an IPO a few years down the road. As a private company, these papers will be able to invest in improving the content without having to worry about shareholders who want higher EPS numbers every quarter. That could mean more money down the road for these business sections.
Lastly, Zell is an astute businessman whose career has been covered in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, BusinessWeek and other top-notch business publications. If he has read his press clippings — and I’ve never met a CEO who ignores them — then he knows what quality business journalism looks like and what it means to a media company.
As an example, take a look at what Fortune is doing here. They’re taking reader’s questions for Zell and will provide the answers in an upcoming issue of the magazine. It’s obvious he knows the importance of communicating through the business news media.
by Chris Roush
Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Lou Gelfand, a former ombudsman for the paper, wrote that Fortune magazine will regret its decision to allow editor at large Carol Loomis edit Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report and hold its stock while covering the company, run by Warren Buffett.
Gelfand wrote, “Their acknowledged friendship seemed embarrassing two weeks ago when Fortune’s website without shame placed Loomis’ byline and her Fortune title on a story about the Berkshire Hathaway annual report.
“Why? Because she also edited the annual report before it reached Fortune, an ethical no-no confirmed in my conversation with a Fortune public relations manager.
“But there was no editor’s note revealing the departure from accepted news media practices.
“I managed the public relations of a Twin Cities Fortune 500 company for 17 years, and if I had asked a Star or Tribune reporter who covered the company to edit the annual report — either a favor or for cash — my credentials at the newspapers would not have been worth their weight in ashes.
“Whether Loomis was paid by Berkshire Hathaway is irrelevant. She was unlikely to challenge the report’s contentions that she had polished. An accommodating editor can always identify a word that is accurate but could use a modifier to absolutely erase any negative afterthought.”
He later added, “It’s a given that Buffet champions Loomis’ journalistic skills. And her superiors no doubt consider that a testament to Fortune’s influence. What is cast aside is the magazine’s integrity. How would Loomis respond if Berkshire Hathaway’s phenomenal strategy went off course?”
by Chris Roush
The other finalists in the General Excellence category for magazines with circulation between 500,000 and 1 million are Conde Nast Traveler, Esquire, Gourmet, GQ and Wired.
There were no other business magazines that were finalists in any of the General Excellence categories, but Fortune is a finalist in the reporting category. The article that’s a finalist is “The Law Firm of Hubris, Hypocrisy and Greed” by Peter Elkind.
BusinessWeek.com is a finalist in a new category called Interactive Service, and it’s also a finalist in the General Excellence Online category.
I believe I said this last year, but business magazines, particularly BusinessWeek, used to be better represented in the finalists for the awards, but that’s slipped in the past three to four years.
Business glossies BusinessWeek and the Economist saw double-digit inccreases in advertising revenue and ad pages in February, according to data from the Magazine Publishers of America, while the business magazines from Time Inc. saw declines.
BusinessWeek reported a 16.5 percent increase in ad revenue to $21.5 million and a 12 percent increase in ad pages to 184.2 The Economist, meanwhile, showed a 26 percent increase in ad revenue to $7 million and an 11 percent increase in ad pages to 164.
– The flagship Fortune magazine reported a 14 percent decline in ad revenue to $14.6 million and a 22 percent decline in ad pages to 127.5.
– Fortune Small Business posted a 12 percent decline in ad revenue to $4.4 million and a 10 percent decline in ad pages to 41.5.
– Money recorded a 36.9 percent decline in ad revenue to $9.6 million and a 45 percent decline to 49.5.
In addition, Forbes saw a 9.1 percent decline in ad revenue to $17.2 million and a 16.2 percent decline in ad pages to 149.6.
Inc., Wired and Entrepreneur saw small decreases in ad reenue for the month, while Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Smart Monty reported small increases.
See all of the data here.
It’s a dangerous business for business journalists to be naming kings, points out TheDeal.com executive editor Yvette Kantrow in her latest column.
Kantrow wrote, “Just ask BusinessWeek. In 1985, the magazine crowned Salomon Brothers CEO John Gutfreund ‘King of Wall Street’ for his firm’s seemingly unstoppable bond-trading prowess. Two years later, a profit-shedding Salomon was fighting off a takeover attempt by Ron Perelman; four years later, Gutfreund was resigning amid a nasty Treasury bond trading scandal. Not very kingly.
“So you would think magazines would approach the kingmaking business with trepidation, especially on Wall Street, where fortunes rise and fall with all the predictability of the Shanghai market. But Fortune, for one, is undeterred. As everybody knows by now, the magazine crowned Blackstone Group LP’s Steve SchwarzÂman ‘The New King of Wall Street.’ Lucky guy.
“Fortune seems only dimly aware that such a coronation is not without its issues. Becoming the ‘symbol of a new era in finance’ is ‘always a risky proposition,’ it notes. Still, the magazine’s infatuation with its ‘man of the moment’ is palpable, from Blackstone’s domination of ‘the iconic business of this decade â€” private equity,’ to its (allegedly) record-breaking deal for Equity Office Properties Trust, to his much-chronicled 60th birthday party, which has inexplicably been treated as the second coming of Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball. Hmm, let’s see. The guest list for Capote’s gala is viewed as the definitive social index of its time; Schwarzman’s bash featured a performance by Rod Stewart, who reportedly belted out ‘If You Think I’m Sexy.’ You be the judge.
“But we digress. No sooner had the ink on Fortune’s ode to SchwarzÂman dried (every Wall Street clichÃ© from Gordon Gekko to Masters of the Universe makes an appearance here) but news broke that Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Texas Pacific Group were making a $45 billion run for TXU Corp., topping Blackstone’s $39 billion EOP deal. ‘And that would mean that Henry R. Kravis, a co-founder of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, has managed to upstage, at least for the time being, his longtime rival in deals, Stephen A. Schwarzman, a co-founder of Blackstone,’ The New York Times opined on Feb. 24 in a page 1 story.
“Uh-oh. Had the media been feting the wrong guy?”
Read more here.
Fortune magazine, which last week was criticized by the business school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for its list of the top business schools in the country, issued a correction.
The correction stated, “Last week, CNNMoney.com published ‘Top 50 Business Schools for Getting Hired.’ The data for the list was provided by an outside vendor, Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd. Upon our publication of the feature, we were alerted to potential flaws in the provided data and the data survey methodology. These flaws in methodology may have resulted in University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and Boston University being omitted from the list. CNNMoney.com regrets the error, and apologizes to its readers and the business schools involved. The list has been removed from the site.”
A story in the Daily Tar Heel, the student paper at UNC, stated, “According to information posted on the school’s Web site, QS stated that Kenan-Flagler was not included in the list because they confused the school with N.C. State University’s College of Management.
“QS officials also that said they did not contact any representatives from the school and that they used out-of-date data collected for a different purpose when creating the list.”
Disclosure: As a business journalism professor at UNC, I work regularly with professors from the business school on various projects.
Good magazine has a list of the 51 best magazines ever in its latest issue, and a number of them are business-related glossies or with business overtones.
Here are the particulars:
Early years until CondÃ© Nast buyout (1993â€“1998)
Pages oozing with retina-burning inks and startling layouts broadcast a vision of the future that was both utopian and tangible. Wired was able to bridge the cultural divide between geeks and the rest of us because they saw that in our democratic digital tomorrow, we were all geeks. They let us in on the secret that technology wasnâ€™t news, but how it affected our lives was. But CondÃ© Nast giveth (see 2; 31; 45) and CondÃ© Nast taketh away: Its 1998 purchase gradually sapped the infectious energy that so characterized Wiredâ€™s early years. Still, itâ€™s rare to find something as perfect to its cultural moment; both a mirror and a lens, a tribute and a battle hymn. Whatâ€™s next, indeed.
13. Collierâ€™s Weekly
Reporters for Collierâ€™s, founded in 1888, were some of the first to get down in the muck and start raking. Its influence was vastâ€”Congress passed important laws based on evidence printed in the magazine, including a 12-parter on unregulated medicines and a pre-The Jungle essay on slaughterhouses by Upton Sinclair.
Also try McClureâ€™s
Until the death of founding editor Henry Luce (1930â€“1967)
It was a different era when a great financial publication might also be one of the most beautiful. Launched just months after Black Tuesday, the oversize Fortune came with an exorbitant $1 cover price (most other magazines sold for pennies), justifying its cost with stunning graphic covers followed by hundreds of luscious pages brimming with business information and beautiful photography.
Also try: Fast Company, Inc.
See the entire list here.
The Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill went on the offensive Friday against Fortune magazine after the business publication posted its rankings of top business schools in the country on its web site and excluded the school.
WRAL.com wrote that a dean at the school had written a letter to the magazine. “‘I write to express our shock at the shoddy, inaccurate, and inappropriate research methods employed in the Ranking of Top 50 Business Schools,’ Associate Dean Valarie Zeithaml wrote in a letter e-mailed to Fortune Managing Editor Andy Serwer and distributed by the school Friday.
“‘In every major business publication that ranks MBA programsâ€“Business Week, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report and The Wall Street Journalâ€“The University of North Carolinaâ€™s Kenan-Flagler Business School is ranked in the top 20 of all business schools. The Wall Street Journal ranking, based solely on recruiter ratings and the closest to the purported methodology used by QS, places us No. 8 in the nation.’”
QS is the organization that assembled the list for Fortune. The UNC business schoolÂ said that it had spoken with QS, a European firm, according to the WRAL story.
“‘They explained our exclusion by saying that they confused our business school with another North Carolina school (NC State) that is not even ranked by the major ranking publications,’ UNC told Serwer.”
Read more here. Disclosure: Obviously, as a business journalism professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, I work closely with a number of Kenan-Flagler professors on collaborative projects.
It appears that Fortune has taken the listings down from its web site after the complaint.