Tag Archives: Fortune
Advertising Age is reporting that business magazine Forbes is seeking an investor to buy a stake in the company, but what the money would be used for is unclear.
Reporter Nat Ives writes, “Other executives in the business-magazine category speculated that Forbes may want extra cash to fund a new assault on Europe with a region-specific edition. It served Europe and other regions with Forbes Global from 1998 until last summer, when it remade the title as Forbes Asia.
“The business-magazine sector has been sluggish, of course, and Forbes magazine has felt the effects. Its ad pages almost held flat in the first quarter, slipping 0.4%, and fell 2.9% last year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.
“But Forbes also collected $63.8 million in ad revenue during the first quarter, more than any competitor, and up 4.4% from $61.1 million during the first quarter of 2005, according to estimates by TNS Media Intelligence.
“That $63.8 million also represents nearly 25% of the ad revenue brought in by a competitive set comprising Forbes, Business Week, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, Conde Nast Publications’ Wired, Barron’s from Dow Jones, Time Inc.’s Fortune and Business 2.0 and Mansueto Ventures’ Inc. and Fast Company.
“Forbes.com has also become a tremendous asset to the company, to the point that Forbes.com President-CEO Jim Spanfeller told attendees at last year’s American Business Media conference in Boca Raton, Fla., that its ad revenues would “probably” exceed that of Forbes magazine in “about 18 to 20 months.” That was 12 months ago.”
Read the rest here.
Cait Murphy is the editor at Fortune who oversees the compilation of the Fortune 500 list. On Sunday, she was interviewed by the Newsroom Confidential web site discussing how the list is put together and what her role is the editing process.
In the interview, Murphy dscribes herself as an “intermediary” between the researchers who are putting the list together and compiling the information from the SEC filings and the writers of the articles. She is also the person who does the line editing for the main article, and she writes some introductory copy.
To listen to the interview, go here.
A senior editor, Murphy has played a key role in supervising the past three issues of the magazine’s annual Fortune 500 issue. Murphy, the author of three books, has worked at the magazine since 1998. Previously, she reported for The Economist in London and the Asian Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong. She graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. in American Studies.
You can also hear a clip from an interview with BBC’s California correspondent David Willis from the same show. Currently on book leave, Willis has reported for the BBC News from Los Angeles since January 2000. Since joining the BBC in 1983, he spent six years in Asia, where he focused on business topics from his base in Singapore.
The New York Post is reporting Tuesday that a subpoena to research firm Gradient Analytics asked for records of all e-mail and phone contacts Gradient has had with approximately eight financial reporters.
The eight reporters are Marketwatch’s Herb Greenberg, Mad Money host Jim Cramer, Dow Jones Newswire’s Carol Remond, Bethany McLean of Fortune magazine, Jesse Eisinger of the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth MacDonald of Forbes Magazine, former Barron’s editor Cheryl Strauss Einhorn and Roddy Boyd from The Post, who wrote the article.
Boyd wrote, “An individual familiar with the situation said Gradient planned on seeking the permission of the reporters’ news organizations before complying with the order.”
In February, Greenberg disclosed that he had been subpoenaed by the SEC and criticized the action. Afterward, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox backed off the subpoenas, saying the regulatory agency needed to develop a policy on when it would seek information from financial reporters.
The investigation centers around Gradient and Rocker Partners LP and their alleged attempts at driving down the price of online retailer Overstock.com. The president of Overstock, Patrick Byrne, has been criticizing the actions of reporters for using information from short sellers in their writing.
Former BusinessWeek writer Gary Weiss posts on his site about the latest subpoenas. He writes, “So it stands to reason that, being singularly ineffective at punishing real transgressions, the SEC would do an outstanding job of wasting its time. Thus the current witch hunt against the handful of journalists who engage in tough financial journalism.”
San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer Bruce Bigelow wades into the coverage of the battle between Overstock.com President Patrick Byrne and business reporters such as MarketWatch.com’s Herb Greenberg and Mad Money’s Jim Cramer with an article exploring both sides of the issue.
To set the stage: Greenberg and Cramer have written and stated negative things about Byrne’s company in media coverage. Byrne, in return, has retaliated against them and their short-selling sources by filing a lawsuit against the short selling firm and promoting an SEC investigation into the matter. The SEC then subpoenaed the reporters, but have said now — after a media uproar — that they will not enforce the subpoenas.
Despite the fact that he quotes a business journalism professor from UNC-Chapel Hill, Bigelow makes a couple of interesting points in his article.
Bigelow writes, “In the ensuing debate, Overstock’s president has displayed a gift for invective. He has described his foes on Wall Street as ‘miscreants’ and ‘mobsters’ in league with an unnamed ‘master criminal from the 1980s.’
“Byrne and his allies claim that hedge funds routinely ‘plant’ negative stories about Overstock.com and other companies in the press. They have denounced Greenberg and other journalists as ‘dishonest,’ ‘lickspittle,’ ‘crooks’ and ‘lapdogs.’
“Greenberg counters that there is nothing wrong with talking to hedge funds. When it comes to writing about publicly traded companies, with all their public relations resources, Greenberg says he ‘prefers flying red flags instead of green ones.’
“Other journalists note that James Chanos of Kynikos Associates, a private investment firm, took a short position in Enron â€“ and then shared his insights in 2001 with Fortune magazine. Another short-seller, David Tice of the Prudent Bear Fund, was among the first in 1999 to suspect accounting fraud at Tyco International under Dennis Kozlowski.”
Later, he quoted Greenberg as saying, “Much of my time is spent just looking a computer screens and reading material â€“ the transcripts of conference calls, press releases â€“ trying to make it all fit. People don’t have a clue how difficult this is. As a journalist, you’re under a lot of pressure, time pressure. And you’re going through the financial statements, getting calls out, trying to talk to people, trying to understand.”
And then this final part of the story: “The fact of the matter, Greenberg said, is that corporate executives don’t like journalists exposing problems in their operations.”
Read the article here.
Apparently a booking agent in London had been taking bets on who would be the next editor of The Economist magazine, but the bookie shut down the business after receiving a large number of bets on a certain internal candidate.
The London Times reports, “SOMEONE at The Economist knows something we donâ€™t. Paddy Power, the bookmaker, has been offering odds on the new editor, to replace the departing Bill Emmott. Several punters this week started to put large sums ranging up to Â£500 on Ed Carr, the business and financial editor, at 6-1.
“The bookie yesterday suspended all bets, after even more tried to open accounts. Any of them e-mails with “theeconomist” somewhere in the address? ‘We havenâ€™t seen anything quite that unsubtle. Theyâ€™re more intelligent at The Economist. Mind you, when we ran a book on the editor of The [Daily] Mirror . . .’”
Earlier, the Press-Gazette in London had reported, “Journalists with the inside track on who is to succeed Bill Emmott as editor of The Economist could cash-in at the bookies.
“Paddy Power has offered odds on what it sees as the ten front-runners. It has Economist US editor John Micklethwait as even-money favourite followed by the million-selling magâ€™s UK editor Emma Duncan.
Betting on whether a business journalist will get a job. Now, that’s a new concept. I wonder if we can convince a Vegas casino to start accepting bets on who will replace Wall Street Journal managing editor Paul Steiger?
I also think it’s be very cool if the general public could place bets on other business journalism concepts, like how soon will it be before new Fed chief Ben Bernanke appears on the cover of BusinessWeek, Fortune or Forbes? I am setting the over/under on that one at four months.
Barry Ritholtz, who is president of a money manager in New York and writes a blog called “The Big Picture,” has an interesting comment today about using the covers of major magazines as indicators of how to invest.
Ritholtz notes that there are 56 covers of major magazines with Apple’s Steve Jobs on the front. Writes Ritholtz, “So the key question for afficianados of the magazine cover indicator is simply this: Which cover was your sell signal?
“The collage above shows why the cover indicator is not really applicable to single companies . . . ”
Ritholtz argues that the magazine cover indicator is more applicable for trends, such as the stock market, or the boom in industries like the Internet or nano-technology. He states, “In my experience, the Cover Indicator is useful for determining when large social phenomena are reaching an emotional crescendo. Oftentimes, emotions take over at the extremes, as things become either giddy or bleak.”
I’ve got to agree with him. Business magazines are notoriously bad when it comes to predicting trends, especially in the stock market. I recently came across a stock chart from Ned Davis Research that superimposed famous magazine covers with the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
To give you a sample of how bad the predictions have been, here are a few examples:
1. BusinessWeek’s Nov. 2, 1968 cover called “The Boom that Just Won’t Stop” came out when the Dow was at 975. By the middle of 1970, the Dow was at 660.
2. The Barron’s dated Jan. 8, 1973 had the headline “1,200 on the Dow” when the index was at 1020. By the end of 1974, the Dow had dropped to below 600.
3. Then there is BusinessWeek’s infamous Aug. 13, 1979 cover called “The Death of Equities,” which came out when the Dow was at about 800. We all know what happened to the Dow in the next two decades.
4. The Fortune magazine dated Oct. 26, 1987 had the headline “Why Greenspan is bullish” and came out just days before the crash that lopped 25 percent off the market in one day.
5. After the crash, U.S. News & World Report’s Nov. 9, 1987 cover was titled “How to Ride out the Bull Market.” The Dow was at 2,000, and would rise to 11,000 in the next 14 years.
6. BusinessWeek’s Dec. 24, 1990 cover title was “The New Face of Recession.” The country was about to enter the longest time period of economic prosperity it has ever seen.
The point here is that the business media have been incredibly bad in predicting the economy and the stock market. There are lots of investors out there who look at covers such as these and do the opposite with their money.
Stanford University has started a program to teach journalists how to write better about how innovation affects the business world and the larger society. It named its first fellows for the program today.
The press release states: “The fellows represent influential newsrooms in Sweden and Finland, together with the U.S. ranked as the most competitive economies in the world, according to the World Economic Forum. The Innovation Journalism Fellows are this year being hosted by The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Red Herring, Business 2.0, CNET News.com, PC World and the San Francisco Chronicle.
“While working with their hosts, the fellows will participate in a virtual community organized by Stanford. They will present the results of their work at The Third Conference on Innovation Journalism at Stanford April 5-7. The opening speaker for the conference is Vint Cerf, ‘Father of the Internet’ and Chief Internet Evangelist of Google.”
Read the entire press release here.
Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, the two Fortune magazine writers who wrote, “The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron,” are in Houston at the Enron trial, and they posted some of their observations this morning.
Included is some points about the media coverage, and how they were received by defendants Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. They wrote: “Despite a close cooperation in trial strategy, Lay and Skilling have shown flashes of their contrasting personalities. Neither former CEO is a fan of our Enron book, ‘The Smartest Guys in the Room.’ And Skilling, never much good at hiding his feelings, made a point of offering a sly jibe, sidling up to each of us during a break in the courtroom proceedings, to offer the same remark: ‘You certainly look prosperous. Your book must have sold quite well.’ Lay, as always, was genial, greeting us as he did other journalists, with a broad smile and a handshake.
“The media jam for Monday’s jury selection eased a bit on Tuesday, though reporters who really wanted seats in the courtroom (as opposed to a separate courthouse room offering a closed-circuit video feed) sent paid line-holders (in one case, at $50 an hour) as early as 3 a.m.
“The hometown Houston Chronicle has provided saturation coverage, including three separate online blogs. Among the pre-dawn arrivals Tuesday was the paper’s sleepy-eyed fashion writer, who is preparing an analysis of the courtroom stars’ sartorial splendor — such as it is. (Grey suits are the uniform of choice.)”
Can’t wait to read that story about the attire.
I’m going to ignore the press release that Time Inc. and CNN, both pieces of the huge AOL Time Warner media conglomerate, and tell you what I like about the redesigned web site:
1. It has easy access fo the company’s business publications — Fortune, Money, Fortune Small Business and Business 2.0. Previously, if you wanted to find an article out of one of these magazines, you had to go searching for it on separate Web sites.
2. The Web site has broken down its news into different categories, such as companies, technology, personal finance and small business. It’s very similar to how the www.cnn.com Web site presents news, and since that’s my home page, I like the familiarity of it.
3. There is overall more white space to the page, which is visually appealing.
The company says it will have a major ad campaign for the new Web site, but I’m struggling to see what’s new here as far as the business news content.
Anyway, you can look at it here.
And if you want to read the fluffy press release, go here.
I received in the mail today a monograph from a professor in Spain with whom I have been corresponding with in the past several months. The title of the monograph is “Economic and Financial Press: From the Beginnings to the First Oil Crisis,” and it is written by Angel Arrese, a professor at the University of Navarra. It is a short history from the 16th century up to the 1970s. He writes in the introduction: “This monograph aims to be a starting point for gleaning greater knowledge of the economic press from a journalistic point of view as well as from the perspective of the spread of economic ideas in western societies.”
Angel and I have been thinking along the same lines recently, and that is that one of the best ways for the field that we call business journalism to understand itself better so that it can continue to grow and develop is to comprehend the past in the field. In other words, we need to know business journalism history. Angel has written short histories in recent years about The Economist, Forbes, BusinessWeek and Fortune for Spanish-language magazines. I have copies of them, but my Spanish is not so good. If you’d like copies of them, drop me a line.
Angel and I got together after he ran across my History of Business Journalism web site. I am now working on finishing a history of business journalism, primarily from an American perspective, that I hope will begin to offer some of the same insights into who we are and where we came from as a field that Angel has provided to his European audience.