Tag Archives: New York Times
STATS, a blog at George Mason University that examines the usage of statistics and science in the media, praises New York Times business reporter Melanie Warner in a Monday posting.
Trevor Butterworth, a contributing editor to the site, writes that Warner “is doing an astonishingly brilliant job of covering the nexus between science, health and business from the pages of the Times Sunday Business Section. Her latest article, A Sweetener with a Bad Rap, is a superbly reported analysis of whether high fructose corn syrup should be seen as a culprit for the increasing rates of obesity in America. The problem isnâ€™t just that there seems to be a remarkable paucity of hard evidence for the idea that thereâ€™s something specific to fructose thatâ€™s more fattening than regular sugar,
“‘Scientists say part of the confusion about the ingredient’s role in the nutrition debate stems from a basic misunderstanding: the idea that high-fructose corn syrup is actually high in fructose.’
“Unlike some rivals who map similar terrain, Warner is not in thrall to the activists on the health and business beat, and she doesnâ€™t let their soapbox agendas dictate the narrative pitch. This may seem like an obvious journalistic standard to adhere to, but many reporters have a curious phobia about including independent scientists and experts in their coverage of health risks (The Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal on phthalates in cosmetics for example) â€“ or giving industry sources or government regulators a fair chance to make their respective cases (most recent coverage of the supposed risks from Teflon â€“ and the Timesâ€™ mammoth yet staggeringly incomplete investigation of the risks of accidental addiction from OxyContin).
“Warner avoids the quick scare-mongering thrill for genuine analysis â€“ and the results make for compelling reading. (We were particularly impressed by her reporting on the risks from aspartame back in February). This makes her an appointment reporter: someone who can be relied on to see shades of gray when the data is murky and yet call out black and white when the data is clear.”
Read more here.
The Boston Globe is considering selling ads on the front page of its business section, according to an article in the Saturday Boston Herald, in a move that would mirror a decision made by its parent newspaper, The New Yoek Times, which announced earlier this week it would sell ads on the front page of its business section.
Herald reporter Jesse Noyes wrote, “Selling ad space on section fronts is a controversial move. But with the industry facing tough financial straits, more newspapers are considering the practice.
“The Herald began running ads on the front page last September.
“Ironically, online advertising, which has caused grief to print publishers, has contributed to the blurring of the line between commercial and editorial content as newspapers seek out a place on the Internet, said Fred Bayles, a journalism professor at Boston University.
“‘Thereâ€™s so much advertising commingled with editorial copy on (newspaperâ€™s) Web sites that itâ€™s hard to tell where the line should be drawn,’ Bayles said.”
Read more here.
Women’s Wear Daily is reporting that Time reporter Matt Cooper is leaving the general interest magazine for a job at new business glossy Conde Nast Portfolio, while Fortune star Bethany McLean has turned down offers from both Portfolio and the New York Times.
WWD reporter Sara James wrote, “Cooper was the Time reporter caught up in the investigation into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame last year, along with The New York Times’ Judith Miller. He has been with Time magazine since 1999.
“A spokeswoman for Portfolio could not be reached this morning, but a release is expected later in the day.”
Read more here.
James also wrote, “Fortune managing editor Eric Pooley is still recovering from losing senior writer Katrina Brooker to Portfolio last week, but he has narrowly avoided a potentially more damaging loss to his masthead. Bethany McLean, the star editor at large who was the first reporter at a national publication to raise doubts about Enron and later co-wrote a book about the scandal, ‘The Smartest Guys in the Room,’ has turned down offers from Portfolio and The New York Times business desk, and accepted a counter offer from Fortune on Wednesday.”
The New York Times will begin selling ads that will appear on the front of its business section, Times’ reporter Katherine Seelye noted in a Wednesday story.
An announcement was made by executive editor Bill Keller in the newsroom on Tuesday.
Seelye wrote, “The ads are expected to sell at a premium rate because of the prominent showcase the front of the section affords. They will appear in a strip along the bottom of the page.
“The change comes as The Times, along with other newspapers, faces an increasingly difficult economic environment. Mr. Keller also said yesterday that the paper was considering cost-saving measures, including shrinking the width of the paper.
“Mr. Keller disclosed the moves during a presentation to newsroom employees, meetings he holds twice a year. His remarks yesterday focused in large part on the paper’s journalistic accomplishments of the last six months.
“The Times already runs ads on the front of The Metro Section on Sundays, and some newspapers, including USA Today, are now selling advertising space on their front pages â€” a move The Wall Street Journal, for one, has said it is considering.”
Read more here. Personally, I am disturbed by the move. It blurs the line for readers between what is for sale and what is not for sale in the newspaper.
Advertising Age’s Simon Dumenco pokes fun at the New York Times’ business section’s “Career Couch,” a Q&A column for career advice.
A particularly lame recent column focused on the topic of co-wowrkers who stink. Not those who do a bad job, but those with body odor.
Dumenco wrote, “The column ended with this helpful exchange:
“Q: How do you know you’re not the one offending noses?
“A: You can take certain obvious precautions, of course. Bathe regularly and, if you choose, use deodorant …
“Thank you, New York Times! (Next time in “Career Couch”: If your nose runs while you’re in a meeting, consider wiping it on a tissue or, if you choose, on the back of your sleeve …)
“Clearly the Times has concluded that helpless Gen X/Yers crave condescending discourses on the fine points of office etiquette. (Either that or ‘Career Couch’ is a thinly veiled message to that certain reporter on the metro desk who smells like boiled cabbage.) Sadly, I’m sure we’ll see more of this sort of Business Lite journalism, as pubs other than the Times also try to compete (ineptly) with The Wall Street Journal’s lifestyle coverage and Conde Nast’s upcoming Portfolio.”
Ouch. Read more here.
The New York Times launched a new column Sunday in its Real Estate section called “Mortgages,” which is written by Bob Tedeschi. The first one can be read here. Not sure if this is a recurring column or not, but I liked it.
Tedeschi also writes the E-commerce report that appears in Monday’s paper, and he has sometimes written a column called The Practical Traveler.
A graduate of the Columbia Journalism School, Tedeschi spent his first post-graduate months in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, reporting about the social and political changes wrought by communism’s collapse. He then spent two years writing about business and telecommunications for The Connecticut Post, during which time he won two feature writing awards from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists.
As a freelance journalist, Tedeschi has covered subjects from constitutional law to motorcycle rallies, and has also written and produced radio features for his local NPR affiliate. In addition, he has taught journalism, writing and literature at a community college, and taught creative writing to children at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. His work has appeared, among other places, in Wired magazine, Yankee magazine, and The New York Times sports section. He lives on the Connecticut coast.
Slate’s Jack Shafer writes this evening about the simplicity behind the writing of New York Times’ business columnist Joseph Nocera.
Schafer wrote, “Nocera is no egomaniac, I’d point out. He reaches for the first-person because it allows him an intimacy with his readers. The column is so much a one-on-one conversation over a coffee or a beer, the way a good sports column is. On more than one occasion during the year Nocera has been writing his Saturday Times column, I’ve lifted my head out of his copy to shout to nobody in particular, ‘Hey, somebody put a sports column in the Times business section!’
“By the third paragraph I’d have teed up my premise: Nocera demystifies the world of business with original thinking, brainy reporting, and the ability to see around corners. Although opinionated, he’s not really a pundit who tells you what he thinks about executive pay or stock options or antitrust as much as what he’s learned from his reporting. Because it’s harder to show than to tell, Nocera’s pieces run between 1,400 and 2,000 words, epic length compared to the Times’ other columnists. For that reason I like to think of him as a weekly feature writer and not a columnist.
“From his decade at Fortune, Nocera knows that business pundits are the dumb guys at the tableâ€”that if you have real smarts you’re probably making money or have made a lot of moneyâ€”and brings an uncharacteristic modesty to his work. Not every Nocera column comes equipped with a solution to that week’s business-world problem. But when Nocera reaches a conclusion, he’s not shy.”
Read more here.
According to Media Life’s Samantha Melamed, new business glossy Conde Nast Portfolio will need to have journalism that will distinguish itself from others in the group.
Melamed wrote, “The challenge for the new monthly title will be to present readers the sort of engaging journalism that will separate it from the slew of existing titles, led by Forbes, Fortune and Business Week, which are either weeklies or biweeklies, as well as The Wall Street Journal and the business pages of The New York Times. It will also be competing with the personal finance titles, such as Money and Smart Money.
“Portfolio faces a similar challenge with advertisers: wooing away ad pages at a time when more and more business advertisers are trimming print budgets for online. In first quarter 2006, ad pages were down 3.5 percent year to year for business titles and 3.1 percent for personal finance titles. Conde Nast will target business advertisers and consumer advertisers of the sort that now fill the pages of its other titles.
“Next spring, the magazine’s site, cnportfolio.com, will also join the existing business titles’ squabble for online market shareâ€”where the category’s top magazines have seen strongest growth recentlyâ€”with interactive features and online-only content.”
Read more here.
New York Times’ business editor Larry Ingrassia took questions this week from readers about the newspaper’s business section, and a reader from Michigan asked him to assess how his reporters covered the recent corporate scandales.
Ingrassia replied that the Times was at the forefront of covering scandals at companies such as Computer Associates but that its coverage could have been better with the Enron story.
He wrote, “The Times has a tradition of watchdog journalism that extends to our business coverage. Itâ€™s one of many things that our reporters do, but itâ€™s an important thing.
“Iâ€™m probably biased, but I think The Times has done quite a good job covering corporate corruption. But of course we can always do better.
“In some cases we do an exceptional job, like our coverage of the accounting scandal at CA Inc., formerly named Computer Associates, the big software company on Long Island. Times business reporter Alex Berenson gets credit for initially putting the spotlight on the problem, in a story that ran way back on April 29, 2001, ‘A Software Company Runs Out of Tricks; The Past May Haunt Computer Associates.’
“That richly detailed story noted that much of the companyâ€™s growth ‘was a mirage’ because the company ‘has used accounting tricks to systematically overstate its revenue and growth for years,’ according to former employees. That story led to a four-year investigation that has resulted in resulted in guilty pleas by many former executives â€“ including the former CEO Sanjay Kumar last month; federal prosecutors actually have credited The Times story.
“Gretchen Morgenson was at the forefront of covering questionable practices on Wall Street during the bubble years, and won a Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting in 2002 for exposing many of the conflicts the enriched brokers and their firms while impoverishing individual investors.
“These are just a couple of many examples of our coverage of corporate scandals.
“What about Enron? Well, we all could have done better. Yes, there were some stories raising questions about its growth and its black-box accounting before the energy company began to collapse in the fall of 2001, but we wish we would have understood the depth of the problems before then. Ditto with WorldCom and Tyco, among others. But, especially from 2002 on, covering corporate corruption has been a top priority for The Times and many other publications.”
Read more of Ingrassia’s answers here, including to questions about why the newspaper dropped its daily mutual fund listings, how it competes against Internet sites, and why the paper began its Deal Book blog by business reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin.
A reader from Texas also asked Ingrassia about how the NYT competes against the Wall Street Journal. Ingrassia, whose brother is a high-ranking editor there, replied, “The Wall Street Journal? Iâ€™m not sure that Iâ€™ve ever heard of it. Ahem. I know it well, of course. I worked there for quite a while before becoming business editor here at The Times a couple of years ago. And I can tell you from personal knowledge that Journal editors often found The Times very competitive on major business stories â€“ and still do.”
In an interview with the Press Gazette of London, the Times of London editor Robert Thomson criticized existing newspaper writing and reporting in the United States. The Times is planning to launch a U.S. version later this year.
In terms of business coverage, Thomson stated, “What surprised me when I arrived here in 1998 was how poor the business coverage was on the New York Times.
“Perhaps it’s got a little better, but at the same time there are openings for other providers.”
Thomson said the Times’s U.S. edition would follow a different structure at 64 pages compared with the UK version.
When I read these comments, I think about how comments made by rivals in professional sports such as these become “bulletin board fodder” and provide an incentive to the competition. I can see this quote going up on the bulletin board in the New York Times’ newsroom.
Read more here.