Tag Archives: New York Times

NY Times' biz journalist must disclose sources in Trump case

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Timothy O’Brien, the New York Times business journalist who wrote a book last year about real estate developer Donald Trump, must reveal his sources who told him that Trump was just a millionaire, not a billionaire, according to a judge’s ruling, the Philadephia Inquirer reported.

O’Brien became the Sunday business editor for the Times in May.

Timothy O'BrienReporter Jan Hefler wrote, “State Superior Court Judge Irvin J. Snyder ruled in Camden that O’Brien must disclose the three confidential sources who provided him with financial information about Trump’s net worth. In TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald, O’Brien wrote that Trump was ‘not remotely close to being a billionaire’ and was worth between $150 million and $250 million.

“Trump sued for $5 billion, saying he had lost that much in business deals and a damaged reputation.

“Trump has refused to divulge his net worth. Forbes magazine has valued his interests at $2.7 billion.

“‘It was a very good day for Donald Trump,’ said his lawyer, William M. Tambussi, even though Trump’s casino bid in Philadelphia was rejected.

“Tambussi said he would add O’Brien’s sources to the lawsuit once he learned their names.”

Read more here.

WSJ reporters "alarmed" about redesign

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The New York Times’ Katherine Seelye has a look at the redesigned Wall Street Journal set to debut Jan. 2 in Monday’s paper, but the most interesting part of her reporting is her sentence that states, “The move has alarmed some journalists there.”

Wall Street JournalSeelye wrote, “On the front page, the column of news that runs down the left side will be gone. This thrusts the shaded, double-column ‘What’s News’ summary columns, the best-read part of the paper, into even greater prominence. With the front page already displaying advertising, the redesigned version will have room to begin only three or four articles.

“Inside the paper, items that Journal editors deem ‘yesterday’s news’ will be condensed into brief text bits and graphics. Articles will include summary boxes.

L. Gordon Crovitz, publisher of The Journal and executive vice president of Dow Jones, which owns The Journal and smaller publications, said the changes were intended to help the time-pressed reader move faster. He said the print paper would offer more explanatory news while the Web site would break news aggressively, and between the two he hoped to keep readers all day long.”

Seelye later added, “Those who are less happy with the change include some employees. ‘People at The Journal are very concerned about quality,’ said E. S. Browning, a reporter who covers the financial markets and is chairman of the union bargaining committee that represents Journal employees.

“’Lopping a column off the paper is not a quality move,’ he said. ‘It will be harder to do long-form journalism when there is less space on Page One.’”

Read more here.

Diller slams NY Times coverage of executive compensation

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Media executive Barry Diller slammed shareholder governance groups and the New York Times coverage of executive compensation at the Reuters Media Summitt in New York on Monday.

Reuters reporter Martha Graybow noted that Diller received $295 million in compensation last year.

Barry DillerGraybow wrote, “Diller also said he laughed after reading a New York Times op-ed column by Nicholas Kristof earlier this month that suggested Diller ‘may be the laziest man in America.’ Kristof said that a breakdown of Diller’s pay shows he is paid roughly $150,000 an hour to get motivated to do his job.

“He said the column used a nominal figure for the value of his options, but if it had taken into account the context of the grant and the fact that he continues to hold the shares, ‘it is impossible then to make these representations.’

“Diller said he found ‘the whole issue of executive compensation and particularly the policy of The New York Times business section toward executive compensation … absolutely loony.’ He singled out, in particular, business writer Gretchen Morgenson, who often writes about executive pay and corporate governance.

“Morgenson told Reuters, ‘Well he’s certainly entitled to his opinion. I think when someone like Barry Diller says that our focus on executive pay is loony, it must mean that we’re doing the right thing.’

“‘The assessment of his compensation was from research firms that specialize in compensation. As for our business section, I’m sure it could a better job if we were able to pay reporters $150,000 an hour, but frankly I think they do a terrific job with the resources they have,’ said Nicholas Kristof, op-ed columnist at The New York Times, responding to Barry Diller. Kristof spoke to Reuters by phone, as did Morgenson.

Read more here.

Union: WSJ management wants to be like other chains

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The union representing journalists and other employees at Dow Jones, the parent company of The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Marketwatch, posted an update on its web site about the current negotiations with the company on a new contract and noted an unusual stance by management.

Union president Steve Yount and bargaining committee chair Jim Browning wrote that during negotiations earlier this week, “They also told us which news organizations they think of as our ‘peers’ — the benchmarks on which they want to base our pay and benefits. These are the Associated Press, Gannett, McClatchy, the New York Times, Scripps, Tribune and the Washington Post.

Gordon Crovitz“With all due respect to these companies, we don’t aspire to be like them. We certainly don’t want to become another USA Today.

“Back in August, WSJ publisher Gordon Crovitz pointed with pride to a Pew study showing that the Journal is the most trusted publication in the U.S.

“‘Indeed,’ said Gordon, ‘the Journal was the only major publication whose credibility rating rose since 2004, the time of the most recent Pew study.’ He added that ‘the Journal stands alone’ in its absence of bias.

“That’s what we aspire to. We want to remain head and shoulders above the rest, not part of the crowd. To do that, we need quality pay and quality benefits. Quality people deserve a quality contract.”

Read more here.

NYT editor defends Morgenson

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Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr. took a swipe at New York Times business journalist Gretchen Morgenson last week in one of his columns, albeit without naming her.

Gretchen MorgensonOn Wednesday, the Journal published a letter from Times executive editor Bill Keller defending his reporter, saying the column “casualty insulted one of the best journalists in the business.”

Keller wrote, “As for Gretchen Morgenson, who is a particular object of Mr. Jenkins’s scorn, I’m not sure which is the best evidence of her immense civic value: the legions of Wall Street executives who read her with respectful dread, because she understands them so well; the testimony of ordinary investors and other readers who look to her as one of the markets’ shrewdest and most fearless guides; the Pulitzer she won for a body of work that Mr. Jenkins calls ‘relentless but unanalytical’ and the Pulitzer Board called ‘trenchant and incisive’; or the efforts of just about every business editor in town to hire her away from us.”

Read more here.

Many issues with NYT coverage of Morgan Stanley fight

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TheDeal.com executive editor Yvette Kantrow noted that The New York Times finally wrote about the battle its parent company is having with Morgan Stanley, but she added that there were many issues with the story that the Times didn’t address for its readers.

Kantrow wrote, “The story said that Morgan Stanley Investment Management had sent a report to the Times’ board ‘sharply critical of its governance practices.’ Examine it closely, and weird Timesean backstories begin to emerge.

“For starters, we learn that Morgan Stanley’s report was ‘prepared by Davis Global Advisors, a consulting firm run by Stephen Davis, who writes a column for the Financial Times.’ True enough. But describing Davis as a guy who writes for the FT is like saying Jack Welch is someone who writes for BusinessWeek. Davis is a bona fide corporate governance guru, just the kind of personage the Times likes to wheel out in its pro-shareholder rants. Last month, no less a governance diva than Gretchen Morgenson quoted Davis twice, identifying him as the editor of Global Proxy Watch, a weekly publication on corporate governance issues.

“Could Thomas’ ID’ing of Davis as a columnist for the FT be a subtle way of suggesting that since he writes for a rival, his report about the Times’ board might be biased? Hmm.

“Then we move on to learn that the Times’ board, after receiving Morgan’s missive, ‘asked Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, headed by Martin Lipton, the well-known corporate lawyer and adviser to boards, to assess the Times’ governance practices.’ Excuse us? Is this the same Martin Lipton whom Thomas took aim at last year in a rather over-the-top business section front-pager that accused the lawyer of wearing ‘too many hats’ for clients and of giving lousy legal advice? Yes, indeedy. But lest we think that Lipton might be wearing too many hats for the Times, Thomas assures us that, according to a Times spokeswoman, ‘Mr. Lipton was hired to evaluate the board’s governance standards and is not advising the board on how it should respond’ to Morgan Stanley. That’s a relief. This nonconflicted Lipton, by the way, found the Times Co. ‘to be employing state of the art corporate governance procedures.’ Who would expect otherwise?

“The Times on Nov. 7 ran a correction to the story, which ‘misstated the involvement of the fund company’s parent’ in the shareholder campaign. ‘Morgan Stanley has not been involved at the corporate level,’ the correction explained. The story also got wrong the intricacies of the family trust that controls the Times Co., incorrectly reporting that publisher Arthur Sulzberger would have to decide to repeal the dual-class structure. Oops again. Both booboos were attributed to an ‘editing error,’ making us marvel that a sensitive story about the paper’s parent wasn’t vetted a bit more carefully.

“By the way, Morgan Stanley on Nov. 8 formally proposed a change to the Times’ governance practices. The paper covered this development with copy from the Associated Press.”

Read more here.

Former NYT retail reporter Barmash dies at 84

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Isadore Barmash, a New York Times retail reporter from 1965 to 1991 whose byline was well-known, died Thursday. He was 84.

Isadore BarmashBarmash, according to an obituary in the New York Times, continued to write even after he retired from the paper.

Robert McFadden wrote, “In the genteelly cutthroat world of retail merchandising, where greed, secrets, backbiting and other skulduggery often lurk behind the facades of fashion, marketing and merger announcements, Mr. Barmash took his readers beyond the glitz of the selling floors and the closed doors of executive suites.

“Besides chronicling the fortunes and failings of big department stores like Macy’s, Gimbel’s, Saks and Bloomingdale’s, discount chains like Korvettes and myriad small businesses, Mr. Barmash covered fashion trends, the explosion of credit cards, leveraged buyouts, executive fights, corporate missteps, bankruptcies and hidden biases that affected black, Hispanic and female aspirants for management.

“In a career that spanned more than four decades, Mr. Barmash worked for Fairchild Publications in the early 1950s, was managing editor of Women’s Wear Daily from 1955 to 1963 and was a reporter for The New York Herald Tribune in 1963 and 1964. He joined The Times in 1965 and retired in 1991, but continued for a decade to write freelance articles and books on retailing.

“‘He was a legendary figure on the beat and one of the toughest and most gracious competitors I ever had,’ said Hank Gilman, deputy managing editor of Fortune magazine, who wrote for The Wall Street Journal when he knew Mr. Barmash in the early to mid-1980s.”

Read more here.

Can Dow, WSJ reporters make transition to video?

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Erick Schonfeld at Business 2.0 wonders whether the reporters at Marketwatch, The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s can make the conversion to video as its parent company begins video streaming on its web sites.

WSJ video contentSchonfeld wrote, “All three are powered by Brightcove on the backend, and show exactly the same video content—print journalists on camera talking about their stories or studio interviews with corporate execs flogging new products. Everyone in the media biz is trying to get their hands on some of that Web video advertising. And this effort in particular appears to have the ad sales people’s hands all over it.

“You are forced to watch an intrusive video ad from the very beginning which disables all the controls before you even know what news clips are available. When you do finally get to watch the clips, they are informative but a little bit boring.”

Later, he added, “All of this raises a serious question that my boss Josh Quittner made to me recently: ‘Print people are meant to be read, not seen.’ So far, no one has proven him wrong. But I think someone will soon. This is like the early days of cable. And what was formerly known as the print media—whether that is Dow Jones, the New York Times, or my employer Time Inc.—is coming to grips with the fact that once you start publishing on the Web, you need more than just words and pretty pictures. We are going to see a lot of experimentation, and we are going to find out if print people can learn to be seen.”

Read more here.

Mnookin: Best NYT columnist is biz section's Stein

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Author and journalist Seth Mnookin writes on his blog that Ben Stein, the part-time movie actor and son of a famous economist, is the best columnist in the New York Times.

Mnookin wrote, “Sunday is ugly stepdaughter of the Business department (although recent efforts to improve its quality have resulted in marked improvement). The people who cherish the Sunday Times — you know, the ‘she reads the Book Review, I do the crossword’ people — are the liberal arts, self-styled intellectual types who want to read about books (even if they don’t read books), or want to be up-to-date on the arts world (even if they don’t actually go to museums). Business folk, on Ben Steinthe other hand, are not reaching for a door stopper-sized paper on Sundays. They get their news during the actual work-week; that’s why the Wall Street Journal doesn’t even bother publishing on Sundays. (Its recent Saturday edition was created mainly to draw in more women readers.) A recent stilted effort to move the Times media coverage from Monday to Sunday died a quick death when the paper’s media writers staged a mini-revolt.

“But I digress. Stein’s column — this week’s was about the total lack of shame in corporate America — isn’t so good because it’s well-written and easy to understand, although it’s both. Its strength lies in the fact that many of Stein’s columns seem to go against what you’d assume Stein’s views to be; a life-long Republican and former speech writer and lawyer in the Nixon administration could reasonably be assumed to be a deranged firebreather (think Pat Buchanan) or at least a reliable conservative (think William Safire). But a surprising number of Stein’s columns decry the greed (and stupidity) or corporate America. What’s more, Stein’s pieces seem more affable than angry. He’s not shouting from the treetops or preaching to the converted, which is the trap most opinion-mongers on both sides of the aisle fall into. He likes money. He likes being well off. But he doesn’t let that, or his political affiliation, blind him to the realities of our current economic environment.”

Read more here. Stein’s column is called Everybody’s Money and runs in the Sunday Times. Bueller? Bueller?

Kantrow: No evidence in Times, BW to indict Mack or private equity

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TheDeal.com executive editor Yvette Kantrow writes in her Media Maneuvers column that recent stories by the New York Times looking into allegations that Morgan Stanley CEO Stanley Mack was involved in insider trading with hedge funds and BusinessWeek looking into shenanigans by private equity firms both lack the facts that support their arguments.

New York TimesKantrow wrote, “But the fact that Aguirre’s evidence is so thin is problematic for the Times’ overheated coverage of this hedge fund ‘scandal.’ It’s hard to get worked up over an investigation that didn’t happen when the only proof of potential wrongdoing by the two main suspects is the fact that they are friends. (We bet they even play golf together. Quelle horreur!) But the Times is convinced that hedge funds are hotbeds of insider trading, that the SEC is looking the other way and that it’s going to end badly. Some of that may be true. Still, there has to be a better way of exposing those ills than throwing a bunch of half-baked accusations at the wall and hoping a few stick. If you want the glory of being first to call the fall of hedge funds, you’ve got to do the work.

“As the Times leads a jihad against the evil of hedge funds, BusinessWeek continues its crusade against BusienssWeekrolling-in-the-dough private equity. Less than three months after bringing us the sensational headline ‘Buy It, Strip It, Then Flip It’ on its story about the initial public offering of Hertz Corp. by its buyout owners, BusinessWeek strikes again with the cover story ‘Gluttons at the Gate: How private equity is using slick new tricks to gorge on corporate assets.’ So, BusinessWeek, tell us how you really feel.

“Inside is the usual smorgasbord of complaints about how buyout shops do business, from how much debt they lay on their companies to the ‘dubious’ fees they charge to the record dividends they ‘extract.’ ‘Some private equity firm executives are being investigated for outright fraud,’ the magazine adds. Whom is it referring to? John A. Orecchio of AA Capital Partners Inc., a Chicago firm with $194 million under management. Not exactly Henry Kravis and his ilk.

“Still, an indictment is an indictment. The problem is, BusinessWeek, like the Times in the Mack case, can blow lots of charges into the air, but it can’t begin to close the case. Yes, multiples are rising. True, buyout deals have gotten bigger. But even BusinessWeek feels compelled to qualify nearly every sensational charge. The story leaves the impression that BusinessWeek, like the Times, just wants to position itself for when, inevitably, something bad does happen.”

Read more here.