Tag Archives: New York Times
by Liz Hester
The New York Times ran an interesting story Monday about the merger of Time Inc. and Meredith Corp. The basic premise of the story is that Meredith is the good, frugal, honest Midwest firm while Time is the greedy, bloated and wasteful New York publishing giant.
Without actually coming out and saying it, the prediction is that the culture clashes will be too great for the combined firm to succeed.
Here are a few excerpts from the story:
Meredith’s headquarters in Des Moines have an open floor plan; the executives have their offices on the first floor and favor early-morning meetings. A recent lunch at one of Meredith’s magazines featured kale salad and rosemary-infused cucumber lemonade. Time executives tend toward lunches at Michael’s, where the dry-aged steak is a highlight, and after-work cocktails at the Lamb’s Club.
And then there are the postrecessionary approaches to travel: Meredith’s chief executive turned its corporate jets into shuttles with open seating, while Time still allows staff members to expense hotel rooms at the Four Seasons.
“It’s like the Yankees’ farm team taking over the Yankees,” according to a current Time Inc. executive who, like many who talked about the merger, declined to be identified while criticizing bosses or potential bosses.
The merger news appears to be more troubling to employees at the long revered Time Inc., whose lucrative titles like People and InStyle have been essentially sold off by Time Warner and are likely to be overseen by Meredith’s chief executive, Stephen M. Lacy. Time Inc. employees have made cracks about Des Moines and shared more sobering fears about the merger.
While Time executives privately characterized Meredith executives in the past week as being cheap on everything from compensation to their magazines’ spending on paper stock, former Meredith executives say the company merely spends wisely.
While public filings do not reveal the salary of Time Inc.’s chief executive, Laura Lang, Mr. Lacy makes an annual base salary of $950,000 as Meredith’s chief and has total compensation of $5.8 million including stock awards. Mr. Griffin said that when he worked at Meredith, the company focused aggressively on spending judiciously and weathering the recession.
“There’s a difference between spending and investing, and Meredith has aggressively invested,” Mr. Griffin said. “There really is a sense we’re all in this together.”
Time, which its former executive Ed McCarrick described as “the Harvard of the publishing business,” has followed a very different trajectory. Nancy Williamson, who worked for the company from 1959 to 1989 at Sports Illustrated, Time and People, described how the company evolved from a news organization investing in serious journalism to a much fatter company.
“Greed came to the company in the ’90s,” she said. “It was just a huge company: huge bonuses, huge salaries, stock shares for the big guy, not the little guy.”
Jim Kelly, a former Time Inc. executive, stressed that the company had tried to address its costs for years and added that “Time has had more restructurings than Angelina Jolie has tattoos.”
There were some parts of the story that were critical of Meredith, such as this one, but it still shifted back to a positive spin.
In recent years, Meredith has actually fared worse than Time in terms of advertising pages for its monthly titles. Craig Huber, an independent research analyst with Huber Research Partners, noted that Meredith performed better during the recession, then dropped off relative to its competition as the economy improved. But he added that Meredith has continued to expand its magazine business while Time Warner shifted its focus elsewhere.
“Meredith has been willing to invest in small acquisitions that Time Warner has been trying to get out of,” he said. “Time Warner is focused on the rest of their business, all of their entertainment business, whereas Meredith only has magazines and TV stations.”
Meredith has also focused on bringing in new sources of revenue from events and custom publishing around their magazine titles, according to Reed Phillips, a managing partner for DeSilva & Phillips, a media banking firm. He said that Mr. Bewkes believed that “under Meredith’s management, with their ability to monetize marketing services for the Time Inc. magazines,” the magazines would be “better off and more profitable.”
While I appreciate the idea and the sentiment behind the story, I think it could have been a little more balanced.
The deal is happening, and it seems that there must be something good about Time Inc. I just had a hard time finding it in this story.
by Adam Levy
The gloves came off last week after the New York Times hammered Tesla Motors’ Model S car in an article.
Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk used data logged by the car to conduct a point-to-point rebuttal of the negative review.
The donnybrook was, if not enjoyable, unusual. Rarely does a CEO go to such lengths to rebut an article. But, this isn’t the first time for Musk who sued the UK TV show “Top Gear” after a segment a couple of years ago.
A couple of lessons for companies and their PR people jumped out at me.
First, do your homework before agreeing to an interview/meeting.
Here’s a snippet from Musk’s response. “We assumed that the reporter would be fair and impartial, as has been our experience with The New York Times, an organization that prides itself on journalistic integrity. As a result, we did not think to read his past articles and were unaware of his outright disdain for electric cars.”
I get the swipe at the reporter, but why would a company not do basic research? How complicated is it to search for clips to see what this reporter has covered in the past and whether there is a putative bias? If a reporter has even the whiff of an agenda I would advise any of my clients to avoid siting down to chat with him or her, whether on- or off-the-record. And I wouldn’t go out of my way to provide access to the product to him or her either.
Second, reporters should never have an agenda. I’m not suggesting that John Broder had one. He is, in years of reading him, a terrific journalist. But the lesson here is broader than who is right in this circumstance. If you cover a company, you need to have an open mind, and keep it through the course of your coverage.
I recognize that columnists need to opine – that’s what they do. When I read a car review I want to know if the ride is stiff, or if the motor purrs like a kitten (or whatever cars are supposed to do). But it’s a real disservice to readers if that review is biased by a bad experience in the past or a predetermined opinion. I don’t want your bias to become my bias; I want your informed opinion to set the stage for mine.
Finally, pick your battles. If you do have an agenda, or are you’re a litigious company, you need to check out your target before you engage in battle. I don’t see how either side “wins” here. Musk’s posting appeared pretty damning and then the Times responded methodically to each of his detailed assertions.
I think they both lose. A few months (weeks) from now, I won’t remember the details of the argument – but I’ll think a little less of each side.
by Chris Roush
New York Times business editor Dean Murphy sent out the following staff announcement by email on Tuesday:
I am pleased to announce that two of BizDay’s finest editors will be assuming key editing jobs — Dave Gillen as our enterprise chief and Damon Darlin as international business editor.
Read about their new responsibilities here.
You’ve seen him on TimesCast, the natty VJ with the Calvin Klein suits, quick wit and unruffled presence. You’ve been treated the past two years to his eye for narrative journalism in Sunday Business. And during the dark days of the financial meltdown, he’s the wordsmith who made reams of deadline copy about stuff like collateralized debt obligations read like poetry (OK, at least like the queen’s English).
Dave Gillen — video guy, idea guy, story guy, word guy and finance guy — is BizDay’s jack-of-all-trades. He will now ply his trades across the entire department as deputy business editor for thinking/doing big.
Dave will oversee projects and major enterprise, an ideal convergence of his experience covering finance, business and economics, and editing long-form journalism both at Sunday Business and (in a previous life) Bloomberg Markets magazine. He will also devote particular attention to encouraging collaboration and cross-pollination among our many pods. When a great idea needs reporters with different backgrounds and beats, he will make sure they find each other. When a barrier needs to come down, he will go to his tool kit and make it happen. When a small idea needs some brain power to become a big idea, Dave will bring the geniuses into the same room.
His ambitions will be lofty — front page and home page, for starters — but he will also be focused on our most precious real estate: the BizDay dress page and online section front. He will help ensure we consistently have blockbuster centerpieces that are not only engaging tales but grab the reader with eye-popping visuals and imaginative multimedia.
The mantra moving forward: The sky’s the limit. Everything’s possible.
Dave is one cool editor, and not just because he plays tenor sax and does good video. In the heat of deadline, or some big breaking story, he is the one calmly tapping away at his keyboard — something he demonstrated early and often when he joined the Times from Bloomberg as finance editor during the onset of the financial crisis in 2007. He helped shape our coverage that was a Pulitzer finalist for Public Service.
Dave moved to Sunday Business in 2011, where David Segal said the flag would now be flying at half-staff (if only Sunday Business had one) mourning his departure. “The guy has everything you want in an editor, including enthusiasm, smarts, warmth, patience, superb story ideas and great hands,” David says. “ He is also is totally unflappable, and believe me, we tried our best to flap him.”
Not to worry. Dave will be moving just a few yards away to Larry’s old desk. He starts immediately.
Damon Darlin has left such a big imprint on our technology coverage that it easy to forget that he has had many other journalistic lives (think cats — it will become clearer as you read on). His new job as international business editor draws on years of editing experience — at The Times and multiple magazines — and as a reporter in Seoul and Tokyo for The Wall Street Journal.
His new role on BizDay has never been more vital as we become increasingly integrated with the IHT in Paris and Hong Kong, more of our coverage carries global dimensions, and our readership continues to grow beyond our borders. Damon will oversee BizDay correspondents in Europe and Asia, coordinating closely with Tim Race at the IHT, and will also work with beat reporters — including those in tech — in New York and San Francisco to conceive stories with an international reach. He will place a high priority on the Web, making sure our stories from abroad get the kind of graphics and multimedia attention they deserve. And he will take ownership of the international coverage in our daily report, landing Page 1 and home page stories, making narrow stories speak to a broader audience and generally placing international events in context for our readers.
Damon is one of those Energizer journalists whose talent and energy are boundless. The tech team he assembled is a testament to his dedication and leadership. He expanded the reporting staff, helped start Bits, one of the most popular blogs at the Times, and has kept our competitors running in circles.
How does he do it? Steve Lohr, the dean of our tech team, describes Damon as a “genial taskmaster” who gets the most out of his staff by being “smart, steady, tireless and quirky.”
“Damon has an intellect that goes both high and low, from the economics of technology to the fine points of the latest iPhone app — and well beyond tech, from international affairs to Korean cuisine,” Steve says.
And there is more. Before there was Ron Lieber, there was Damon — the first “Your Money” columnist extraordinaire. Damon came to The Times in 2005 to start the column, an instant reader favorite. And when he is not working, Damon cooks a lot — by his own description, “mostly weird ethnic stuff with offal” — and tries to figure out the minds of cats (yes, cats; they’re an obsession), which he hopes may someday turn into a book.
“We all forgave him his inexplicable fascination with Web sites about cats,” Steve Lohr explains. “We all have our eccentricities.”
Damon will be moving to New York from the San Francisco Bay Area this spring. He will take up his new role after handing off his tech responsibilities to Glenn Kramon.
by Liz Hester
The news for the U.S. economy wasn’t good on Wednesday as domestic growth stalled. An increase in retail sales in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough to offset the biggest drop in government spending since 1973, according to the Wall Street Journal.
What’s interesting is that the major business media interpreted the results differently.
Here’s The Journal’s take on the matter:
U.S. economic momentum screeched to a halt in the final months of 2012, as lawmakers’ struggle to reach a deal on tax increases and budget cuts likely led businesses to pare inventories and the government to cut spending.
The nation’s gross domestic product shrank for the first time in 3 1/2 years during the fourth quarter, declining at an annual rate of 0.1% between October and December, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.
It was the first time the broad measure of all goods and services produced by the economy contracted since the recovery from the financial crisis began. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected 1.0% annualized growth.
The decline reflects worries about the so-called fiscal cliff. The economy reversed from a 3.1% pace of growth in the third quarter largely because federal government spending fell by 15% and private business, likely fearing slack in demand, let inventories dwindle.
The New York Times took a more moderated approach at the beginning of their story, saying the indicators weren’t enough to push the economy back into a recession.
The drop in gross domestic product was driven by a plunge in military spending, as well as fewer exports and a steep slowdown in the buildup of inventories by businesses. Anxieties about the fiscal impasse in Washington also contributed to the slowdown, one reason stockpiles grew more slowly.
Despite the overall contraction, there was underlying data in the report suggesting the economy is not on the brink of a recession or an extended slump. Residential investment jumped 15.3 percent, a sign that the housing sector continues to recover, for one. Similarly, investment in equipment and software by businesses rose 12.4 percent, an indicator that companies are still spending. Although economists expected output to decline substantially from the 3.1 percent annual growth rate recorded in the third quarter, the negative number still caught Wall Street off-guard. It was the weakest economic report since the second quarter of 2009.
“I’m a little surprised,” said Michael Feroli, chief United States economist at JPMorgan. “It grabs your attention when you have a negative number across everyone’s screens.”
Stocks were down only slightly in early trading on Wall Street, as some traders shrugged off the unexpected drop.
Mr. Feroli had been expecting growth to come in at 0.4 percent, which was well below the 1.1 percent consensus among economists on Wall Street. Like some other observers, Mr. Feroli said there were hints the economy was performing slightly better than the headline number suggested.
The 22.2 percent drop in military spending – the sharpest quarterly drop in more than four decades – along with the drop in inventories and exports overwhelmed more positive indicators in the private sector, he said.
For example, final sales to private domestic purchasers, which strips out government spending as well as trade and inventories, rose by 2.8 percent. “Consumers and businesses kept spending at a pretty steady pace,” Mr. Feroli said. “There was a lot of noise that moved the headline around.” For the entire year, the economy grew by 2.2 percent, a slight improvement from the 1.8 percent annual rate in 2011.
Bloomberg points out there was some good news for durable goods, especially auto manufacturers.
Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, expanded at a 2.2 percent annual rate last quarter, up from 1.6 percent in the previous three months, today’s report showed. Purchases of durable goods, including automobiles, climbed at a 13.9 percent rate, the most in two years.
Cars and light trucks sold at a 15.3 million annual rate in December after a 15.5 million pace the prior month, the best back-to-back showing since early 2008, data from Ward’s Automotive Group showed earlier this month.
A jump in pay may have helped consumers. After-tax income rose at a 6.8 percent annual rate from October through December, the biggest increase since the second quarter of 2008, today’s report showed.
In addition to improving wages and salaries, some companies also paid dividends and employee bonuses earlier than usual before tax rates went up this year. The Commerce Department estimated that about $26.4 billion of the increase in incomes was attributable to early dividend payments and another $15 billion reflected bonuses and other types of irregular pay.
The gain in consumer spending may be difficult to sustain this quarter as a tax increase takes a bigger chunk from earnings. Congress on Jan. 1 let the payroll tax revert to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent while avoiding broad-based income tax increases. Lawmakers are now wrangling over spending reductions scheduled for March 1 that threaten to further slow the economy.
While the market was down slightly, it didn’t see the huge sell-off that news like this can sometimes bring, indicating that traders and money managers aren’t expecting a huge economic decline. Let’s hope they’re right.
by Chris Roush
Ryan Chittum of Columbia Journalism Review writes about how competing business news media did not credit Reuters’ investigative work last year on Chesapeake Energy for the announcement Tuesday that its CEO was stepping down.
Chittum writes, “Beat reporters tend and their bosses not to like to give credit to competitors who have scooped them repeatedly.
“The Wall Street Journal doesn’t deign to mention Reuters at all in its Marketplace cover piece, which is a big hole in its story. Bloomberg is chintzy, crediting “media reports” rather than its top competitor. That’s pathetic, but at least it mentioned the press’s role, unlike the Journal.
Shareholders including Carl Icahn, the activist investor, forced a shake-up of the board last year after the revelation by Reuters of Mr McClendon’s previously undisclosed borrowings intensified concerns about corporate governance.
“It might be cynical to note that Reuters is more of a competitor to the WSJ (Dow Jones) and Bloomberg than it is to the FT and the NYT, but there it is. By ignoring or downplaying a competitor’s scoop, particularly one that sent a company’s shares down 10 percent at one point, you’re not telling the whole story.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
David Gallagher, the deputy technology editor at The New York Times, has announced that he is leaving the paper for a job at Kickstarter.
At the Times, Gallagher manages a team of reporters in New York and San Francisco, generating articles for the front page and business section, with an emphasis on making them accessible and relevant to a broad readership.
Gallagher helped to conceive, launch and edit Bits, a blog aimed at a tech-savvy audience that has become one of the most popular blogs on NYTimes.com.
He has been with the Times since August 2003 and deputy tech editor since April 2006. The paper named Glenn Kramon as the new tech editor earlier this month.
Gallagher was one of the first photobloggers in the world, starting in November 2000. He also once worked at Bloomberg News.
by Chris Roush
Randall Forsyth of Barron’s writes about how the media coverage of the markets is often a contrary indicator for future performance.
Forsyth writes, “‘As Worries Ebb, Small Investors Propel Markets,’ was the headline of the lead story on page one of Saturday’s New York Times. ‘Americans seem to be falling in love with stocks again,’ the Gray Lady reported.
“To which Barry Ritholtz, chief executive of Fusion IQ, observes, ‘Uh-oh,’ on his Big Picture blog. The bullish tone of the Times piece qualified as a contrary market indicator since it met his four qualifying criteria: a mainstream, non-business publication, with a front-page or cover story about a rallying asset class with a decidedly bullish tone.
“That view was confirmed by Paul Macrae Montgomery, the head of the Universal Economics advisory and the originator of the magazine-cover indicator. Years ago, he studied all the Time Magazine covers going back to the 1920s and found they were redoubtable contrary indicators. By the time Time’s editors put a market trend on the cover, it was within weeks of being played out. A bullish cover meant it was close to time to sell, and vice versa.
“Newspaper stories didn’t conform exactly to the same pattern, Montgomery noted in a phone conversation from his in Newport News, Va., office. First off, for a story to matter it had to get front-page, ‘above-the-fold’ placement, which the Times story had.
“What’s more, newspaper stories tended to signal market tops within two trading sessions, he added.
“That said, however, Montgomery professed less confidence in newspaper page-one stories than magazine covers. Moreover, markets tended to make tops in a longer, more drawn out process. Panic stories that accompany short, sharp breaks usually signal market bottoms and quick reversals, he adds.”
Read more here.
by Chris Roush
Larry Ingrassia, the business editor at The New York Times until the end of last year, has been named the paper’s assistant managing editor for new initiatives.
In an email to the staff, executive editor Jill Abramson writes, “In this role he will spearhead our many new ventures and revenue projects. There are several already in the works, including our expansion of international coverage.”
Christine Haughney of the Times has the full memo here.
Ingrassia joined The Times in 2004 after 25 years at The Wall Street Journal, where he worked as a reporter and held several editing positions, including assistant managing editor. He oversaw The Times’s coverage of the economic crisis that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2009.
Ingrassia was named the winner of the 2009 Minard Editor Award, honoring excellence in business and economic journalism editing, one of the annual Gerald Loeb Awards for distinguished financial journalism.
by Chris Roush
Winnie O’Kelley, the deputy business editor The New York Times, is considering taking the newspaper’s buyout offer.
Michael Calderone of The Huffington Post writes, “Winnie O’Kelley, deputy editor for Business Day, confirmed to The Huffington Post on Friday afternoon that she is still considering whether or not to take the buyout, but declined to comment further.”
If she leaves, then The Times’ business section will lose a second top editor in as many months. Business editor Larry Ingrassia left last month for another job at the paper and was replaced by Dean Murphy.
O’Kelley received 2012 Lawrence Minard Editor Award, named in memory of Laury Minard, founding editor of Forbes Global and a former final judge for the Loeb Awards. This award honors excellence in business, financial and economic journalism editing and recognizes an editor whose work does not receive a byline or whose face does not appear on the air for the work covered.
O’Kelley directs the paper’s reporting on the economy and helps shape the overall business coverage. For the last three years, she has played a key role overseeing the housing collapse and mortgage bust as well as the recession and financial crisis.
For most of her career at the Times, O’Kelley has worked in the business news department, frequently with primary oversight of financial markets. Her work encompassed the recovery of Wall Street from the September 11, 2001, attacks and in subsequent years a round of financial scandals that brought down several companies, including Enron and WorldCom and the accounting firm Arthur Andersen. The lead financial columnist, Gretchen Morgenson, won a Pulitzer Prize for her work during this time.
As assistant business and financial editor, O’Kelley oversaw the paper’s coverage of the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management, the hedge fund that threatened the financial markets.
by Chris Roush
John Geddes, the former New York Times business editor who rose to become managing editor of the paper, is leaving the news organization, reports Christine Haughney of The Times.
Haughney writes, “In his note, Mr. Geddes reflected on the many things he would miss about The Times, where he has worked for nearly two decades.
“‘After serving four executive editors, it is time for new horizons,’ said Mr. Geddes in his announcement. He said would ‘ache for the vibrations that the newsroom gives off when a crisis erupts and we scramble’ and would miss ‘hearing about a great story (or new ways to tell one).’
“Mr. Geddes joined The Times in 1994 as its business editor and worked his way up the company’s editorial ranks. Before joining The Times, he had spent 13 years at The Wall Street Journal working in both New York and in Europe.
“His departure comes as the paper undertakes a broader restructuring in the newsroom. Like many newspapers facing a troubled advertising market, The Times is trying to cut expenses; in December the paper offered buyout packages to non-guild staff members. It sought 30 volunteers, and said it would resort to layoffs if not enough employees opted for the buyout.”
Read more here.