Tag Archives: Markets coverage

Where is Rukeyser when we need him the most?

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Mary Pitman Kitch of The Oregonian in Portland writes Thursday about how much she misses Louis Rukeyser and his business news show on PBS that ran for three decades.

Rukeyser died in 2006.

Kitch writes, “But the dapper host of ‘Wall $treet Week with Louis Rukeyser’ was also a very shrewd business reporter. He was one of the best interlocutors the world of high finance ever had. And while the economy’s been tanking the last several Fridays, I’ve fervently wished the PBS host would magically appear on our TV screen, assemble his chums, wizards and elves, and merrily call them to account.

“Rukeyser could have given them the drubbing they deserved, and then sent them on their way. True, he might not have been able to absolve them of their sins. Or even explain everything that had gone wrong. But he would have pushed past their jargon-laden hocus-pocus and feeble explanations, and ultimately helped to restore confidence in the market. I can’t quantify the role he played after Black October of 1987, but he did cancel his show’s normal fun and games to hold a post-mortem. Black October of 2008 will require months, even years, of dissection.

“But doomsdayer, Rukeyser was not. Princeton-trained journalist that he was, he had a distinct bias. Although he never let his guests off the hook, he always promoted optimism. Through thick and thin in the market, his show inspired investment. Watching it sparked a strong wish to get in on the action, if you had any kind of regular paycheck — and a pulse.”

Read more here.

Assessing the performance of business journalism isn't that simple

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Dean Starkman, writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, argues that there are many business journalists who have been sounding the alarm about the problems in the housing market and on Wall Street before the economic turmoil, but that assessing the business media’s performance is more complicated than finding the negative stories in archives.

Dean StarkmanStarkman writes, “This isn’t about individuals, after all, but news organizations and the business press as an institution. Any fair measure of press performance will have to take some measure of the record in its entirety. What was the business-press narrative about, generally speaking? What else was written about Wall Street and the financial-services industry? Who was on the covers?

“Were the good stories the rule or the exception that proves it?

“It will also be important to reconstruct the news cultures created by senior editorial leadership, which, it should not be doubted, sets the tone and sends the unspoken-but-unmistakable message to reporters as to what kind of stories are in favor and which are not. If you don’t think this is important, you haven’t worked at one of these places. We’ll never know what wasn’t done. There will be no list, for instance, of goats, the mid-level types who responded to unspoken signals from above and sat on valuable stories, kicked away ideas, and shied away from confrontation.

“And, I’d argue, if you’re really going to do this right, a fair assessment will also have to take into account what was in the available public record and match that—keeping in mind the benefit of hindsight—against the priorities adopted by the leading news outlets.”

Read more here. Starkman argues that the public record on unfair lending practices has been out there, but business journalism wasn’t that aggressive in covering the issue.

CNBC begins running new Cramer ads

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CNBC began running new television commercials featuring “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer on Wednesday using the slogan “In Cramer We Trust.”

Jim CramerOn the commercial, Cramer is speaking, with the monologue taken from Monday’s show, where he said, “Bottom line: The new plan does not save the market. It just takes another Great Depression off the table.

“Don’t go nuts,” he added. “It still makes sense to buy the high yielders and defensive names, the victims of liquidation when they get blown up. But it will never make sense to buy and hold so-called blue chip stocks forever.”

The commercial ends with the tagline and the time of Cramer’s show, as well as the CNBC logo. Future spots, according to a CNBC sourse, will contain updated Cramer monologues.

All of this, of course, comes in the aftermath of rival Fox Business Network running an ad that mocks Cramer for some of his recent recommendations, including Wachovia before it imploded and was sold, and his appearance on the “Today” show where he implored short-term investors to exit the market.

However, a CNBC source says the ads are not in response to the Fox Business ads.

Watch: New Jim Cramer ad

WSJ newsstand sales rise 20 percent in September

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Matthew Flamm of Crain’s New York reports Wednesday that The Wall Street Journal‘s newsstand sales spiked 20 percent in September due to the financial crisis.

Wall Street JournalFlamm writes, “In addition, the paper’s newly redesigned Web site, WSJ.com, has doubled its traffic, reaching around 25 million unique visitors, Mr. Thomson said, citing internal numbers.

“According to Nielsen Online, WSJ.com had 9 million unique visitors in September, an increase of 94%. A Dow Jones spokesman said that internal numbers were often at variance with Nielsen’s.

“Referring to the financial panic, Mr. Thomson said in remarks after the panel discussion, ‘Obviously the story helps.’ He also credited a more general news-oriented front page, with beefed up political coverage, which has been one of the hallmarks of the paper since Rupert Murdoch acquired it from the Bancroft family late last year.

“Newsstand sales represent only about 5% of the Journal’s overall circulation, but they are traditionally considered a good gauge of a publication’s vitality.”

Read more here.

More adjectives, please

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Allen Wastler, the managing editor of CNBC.com adds his two cents to the current discussion in business journalism about what words to use to accurately describe the stock market’s daily gyrations.

Allen WastlerWastler writes, “The market-write, typically updated 6 times a day rain or shine, is the bread and butter of business coverage. Yet the work is often under-appreciated.

“And then, to add insult to injury, the market writer often gets slapped around for word choice. A 50-point drop: is that a ‘fall,’ ‘trip,’ or ‘stumble.’ How about a 100-200 point drop? ‘Dive’ or ‘dip’? More than 300-points? ‘Rout’? ‘Sell-off’? When can we use ‘face plant’?

“Of course if you have days like you did last week, the dreaded ‘c’-word gets considered. That’s usually where a committee gets involved. The ‘c’-word means so much. A few arguments popped up in the business journalism community about some organizations that chose to use it last week, albeit with some qualifiers like ‘slow motion.’

“But arguments ensue about the little words too. One man’s ‘dive’ is another man’s ‘stumble.’ And when you get reversals of direction, like we’re apparently going to get this week, one woman’s ‘rocket shot’ is another woman’s ‘jump.’ And readers often let us know when their thesaurus disagrees with ours.”

Read more here.

Why stock market jump on Monday wasn't on LATimes front page

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Jamie Gold, the reader’s representative at the Los Angeles Times, responds Tuesday to a reader who wanted to know why the big increase in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday didn’t merit front-page coverage after the big drops last week were on the front page.

Sallie HofmeisterGold writes, “The story about the Dow Jones’ ‘exuberance,’ as the print headline put it, ended up on the front of the Business section. The lead story on Page A1 Tuesday was news of the government’s pumping $250 billion into banks. On Monday, Reza might be encouraged to know, editors had discussed the possibility of putting the Dow Jones story out front on Page A1. But ultimately, as Business Editor Sallie Hofmeister said, whether a story will cheer people or not isn’t really a consideration on where it goes in the paper.

“‘While the market rally is very important,’ Hofmeister said in an e-mail, ‘there was no way of telling yesterday whether this was a one-day blip or a sign that we had hit the bottom. At the end of the day, the news about the banks was more important. We don’t determine the placement of stories based on whether they would cheer people up or not. It has to be based on the merits and the importance.

“‘Markets go up and down and while we were up dramatically yesterday and could have justified putting it on A1, there was too much competition, with the fire and the elections around the corner. Today, the Dow is back down, showing that we are in volatile times that make it difficult to draw a conclusion.’”

Read more here.

Soaring ratings for TV financial news, Web sites

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David Lieberman and Jon Swartz of USA Today examine the increase in ratings for televised business news and financial news on the Internet.

Yahoo FinanceLieberman and Swartz write, “Meanwhile millions of people are scrambling to the Internet. Visits to financial news sites for September were up 30%, to 64.3 million unique visitors, from a year earlier, Internet tracker ComScore says.

“Google searches for the word ‘stocks’ more than tripled on Sept. 30, compared with Aug. 2, according to data posted by Google’s website that tracks trends in what people look for online.

“Yahoo Finance, the largest finance site on the Internet, has experienced its biggest weeks for viewership in the second half of September. Activity is up 40% on Yahoo Finance message boards. Its video news program, Tech Ticker, drew a record 2.5 million streams on Sept. 15. ‘People are asking what is going on, how it affects them and where it may be headed,’ says Yahoo Finance general manager Mark Interrante.

“But that may not pay off if the crisis cripples financial-service companies.

“Many news providers have been working since the credit crisis hit last year to attract more tech, travel and luxury goods companies. ‘Advertising has been a leading indicator’ of the economy’s problems, says Vivek Shah, president of Time Inc.’s Fortune/Money Group. He says news providers may soon benefit as banks buy ads to re-brand following mergers.”

Read more here.

The tragedy of the business media

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Hamilton Nolan of Gawker has an excellent analysis of the current state of business media, which is covering its most important story at a time when its ad market is drying up.

Economist magazineNolan writes, “Ten years from now, business outlets will be judged by their coverage of this meltdown in the same way that the New York Times was judged by its 9/11 coverage, or the Littleton Independent was judged by its Columbine coverage.

“That said, the business side of business media should be booming, right? Audiences are up! Everyone is addicted to CNBC! The Wall Street Journal has been unmissable for a solid month! And it’s fair to assume that readership and viewership is up across the board for business outlets, to varying degrees. Fear makes people extremely interested in information.

“Here’s the quandary: The biggest story for business media always comes along at the same time as the worst ad market. By definition, unfortunately! Market crashes are great from a reporter’s standpoint. From an ad salesman’s standpoint, they’re horrible. So a site like The Big Money, which would seem to have had the good fortune to launch on the wings of a massive story, is actually getting choked by the very same conditions it’s reporting on.”

Read more here.

News coming fast and furious

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Tonya Garcia of PRWeek interviews John Byrne, who runs BusinessWeek‘s online operations, about what it’s been like covering Wall Street during the economic turmoil and the importance of the Web to covering the story.

John ByrneHere is an excerpt:

PRWeek: What has your job been like for the past month or so given all the turmoil on Wall Street?

John Byrne: It’s been frantic. The news has been coming fast and furious and the need to get speedy analysis on all the developments on both the economy and the collapse of the financial markets has made everyone extremely busy, working really long hours. But it’s been an exciting time to be in the news business. What every journalist yearns for is when the news is really important and it is being read by a lot of people. All of these developments in the world of business are creating record traffic for us as well. In September, we broke the 10 million-plus unique visitors number for the first time, 10.1 million. The reach of the Web site is now more than twice as large as the magazine’s audience. We had one of our highest number of page views ever recorded for that month as well.

 

PRWeek: Since you work on both the Web site and the magazine, can you talk about how important the Web site is, particularly in this situation?

Byrne: Here we are in a world where you can get access to news and even analysis instantly. The whole concept of the weekly magazine is completely different. In the magazine, we’re doing total original content, less related in many ways to news than had been the province of a newsweekly in the past. Online gives us the opportunity to compete almost like a newswire, or a broadcast, or a daily newspaper.

 

Read more here.

TV critic and CNN's Velshi go at it

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David Zurawik, the television critic of the Baltimore Sun who has been critical of television coverage of the economic crisis, and CNN lead business correspondent Ali Velshi went at each other on “Reliable Sources” Sunday about whether Velshi was reporting or presenting opinion.

CNBC’s Jim Cramer was also discussed, but he declined to appear on the show.

Ali VelshiHere’s part of the transcript:

VELSHI: OK. I can’t tell you that I disagree with any of your views of what we should be doing on TV, but your first column came after the Dow plunged 777 points. And in fact, in the very conversation, you were very selective in what you wrote. You didn’t mark the point where I said we have never seen a bigger point drop in the history of the stock market.

But you know what you need to look at when you have a 401(k)? You need to look at the percentage drop. And the percentage drop here isn’t even in the top 10.

That was the same sentence, David. How did you forget that part? Are you that much of a channel surfer that you were gone by the time I finished by sentence?

ZURAWIK: Ali, I swear, I didn’t ellipses you, I was talking about the overall mode of…

VELSHI: Right. You are conveniently using Cramer and me as a way to do your job as a critic and…

ZURAWIK: Ali, as you know, I wasn’t the only one out there saying these things. I really ask you guys seriously, ask you guys not to do the cable host shtick. Right now we need information.

You are one of the best reporter/correspondents we have in America. CNN is the most trustworthy place on cable TV for information. We are in crisis. Please, rise to the occasion the way some of the anchor people did after…

Read more here.