Tag Archives: News event

Indianapolis TV business coverage changes

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Indianapolis Star business columnist Susan Guyett is reporting a shake-up among television business shows in the market.

Gerry Dick’s Sunday morning business show, “Inside Indiana Business,” will change stations June 4 when it moves from WTHR Channel 13 to WISH Channel 8.

Gerry DickWTHR decided to beef up its coverage by focusing on its news-gathering partnership with The Indianapolis Star, according to Rich Pegram, president and general manager. Star business columnist John Ketzenberger has started appearing regularly on WTHR.

Dick will become a business analyst on WISH, appearing on newscasts, developing stories and covering breaking business news.

Dick’s company, Grow Indiana Media Ventures, and WISH will share content and cross-promote on their Internet sites as well, according to Jeff White, WISH president and general manager.

Grow Indiana Media Ventures, a multimedia business news products company, was started in 2000 by Dick and businessman Scott Jones. It produces a Web site, daily business radio reports and e-mails. The TV show also is broadcast on several other stations in Indiana.

Read more here.

Enron verdict stories out quickly on the Internet

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The media has inundated the Internet with stories about the Enron verdict, which was announced at noon Eastern Standard Time. Some of them are standing out for their comprehensiveness in what the case means, showing that there were a number of business journalists prepared for the verdict.

If you’ve never covered a white collar criminal case before, the strategy is to write two stories — one saying not guilty and one saying guilty. After the verdict comes in, you and your media outlet quickly push the correct story out onto your Web site.

Bloomberg News has a comprehensive wrap-up of the case, including a quote from a white collar defense attorney in the third paragraph: “This conviction brings to a close the government’s effort to send a clear message to the corporate world that fraudulent behavior won’t be tolerated,” said David Irwin, a former state and federal prosecutor who now handles white-collar criminal defense cases in Baltimore. See its story here.

Bloomberg’s story appears to be much more comprehensive than the Associated Press story, which was put out at 12:24 p.m. EST, is just six paragraphs and has no quotes. The Reuters story is also short, but it includes the reactions from Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay when the verdicts were read.

The New York Times story, posted at 12:17 p.m., focuses on what the sentencing will likely be for Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling in the second paragraph and adds this nice contextual paragraph immediately afterward, stating, “For a company that once seemed so complex that almost no one could understand its arcane accounting or how it actually made its money, the cases ended up being nearly as simple as could be. Mr. Lay and Mr. Skilling were found guilty of lying — lying to investors, to employees and to government regulators — in an effort to disguise the crumbling fortunes of their energy empire.” Read its story here.

The CNNMoney.com story is basic, but I do like the box that accompanies the story and shows the diferent charges. It can be found here.

The Houston Chronicle story, posted at 12:15 p.m. EST, noted that sentencing will be held at a later date high up in the story and used a quote from former CFO Andy Fastow, who testified against Lay and Fastow and is expected to serve 10 years in prison, as its lead quote.

It will be interesting to read the second- and third-day stories that come out of the trial, particularly those that talk to the jurors.

Kudos to biz reporters on options backdating coverage

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John R. Austin, an organizational behavior professor at Penn State’s Smeal College of Business, lauds the recent coverage in the financial press regarding the options backdating scandal, as well as the academics who helped uncover this issue, on his “Monty’s Bluff” blog.

And he offers a suggestion on where the reporting should go next.

John R. AustinAustin writes, “I take my hat off to Charles Forelle and James Bandler. Mr. Forelle and Mr. Bandler are the journalists responsible for the initial Wall Street Journal article on this issue. They have also written some of the follow up work as well. These articles illustrate the power of well-researched business journalism. Without their work, the academic research would remain known to just a few. Translating academic work is not an easy task and these journalists have done it well.

“Dr. Lie, Dr. Heron, Mr. Forelle, and Mr. Bandler. Consider this my IOU to all of you. Someday track me down and dinner is on me.

“Two things about the backdating story still need to come to light.

“1. What role, if any, did executive compensation consultants play in this practice? I will not be surprised to learn that backdating was being sold as a legitimate strategy by unscrupulous outside consultants.

“2. What role did board interlocks play in spreading this practice? Following the linkages between executives and boards may be a nice way to identify other guilty companies.

“Even though this practice of backdating appears to be limited to the time before Sarbanes-Oxley, the investigations are still relevant. These executives betrayed their positions of trust. Many are still in their executive positions and still sit on boards.”

Read more here.

Here is a copy of the page one article written by Forelle and Bandler.

A new business paper in Philadelphia?

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One of the investors, Brian Tierney, who is purchasing the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News from McClatchy is raising the possibility of creating a weekly or monthly business newspaper.

Philadelphia Business JournalIn an interview with Cherry Hill Courier-Post reporter Eileen Smith, Tierney said, “With the Daily News, we could do a weekly sports paper, print and online. With the Inquirer business section, there could be an opportunity to spin off something weekly or monthly.”

Read more here.

The idea of a second business weekly in Philadelphia is intriguing, and one that I’m sure the people at Charlotte-based American City Business Journals, who own and operate the Philadelphia Business Journal, will be watching closely.

SEC filings may not be as good in disclosure

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BusinessWeek’s Dawn Kopecki has a great story posted on the magazine’s Web site and in other places on the Internet today about how President Bush has given his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, the power to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations.

In other words, companies can omit information from their SEC filings if they believe that the information involves national security or other similar matters, according to Kopecki.

Secret documents She writes, “In addition to refusing to explain why Bush decided to delegate this authority to Negroponte, the White House declined to say whether Bush or any other President has ever exercised the authority and allowed a company to avoid standard securities disclosure and accounting requirements. The White House wouldn’t comment on whether Negroponte has granted such a waiver, and BusinessWeek so far hasn’t identified any companies affected by the provision. Negroponte’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

“Securities-law experts said they were unfamiliar with the May 5 memo and the underlying Presidential authority at issue. John C. Coffee, a securities-law professor at Columbia University, speculated that defense contractors might want to use such an exemption to mask secret assignments for the Pentagon or CIA.”

Read more here.

This is an issue that affects all business journalists who write about public companies, as well as private companies that file SEC documents. In the past, business journalists have lobbied for, or against, new regulations that affect their ability to report about companies, such as the passage of Regulation Fair Disclosure in 2000.

Does business journalism attract the best minds today?

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Willy Stern, a former writer for Forbes, BusinessWeek and other publications, writes in the Nashville Scene how the journalism business has changed, and he argues that the most important change has been in the talent in the newsroom.

Stern writes, “We journalists are an I.Q.-driven profession. In business school terms, our primary source of capital is intelligence, or so we tell ourselves. The late legendary Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Vermont Royster well understood this basic point—four decades ago. When asked in the 1960s to explain how his business newspaper had risen to national prominence, Royster responded without hesitation that the Journal simply hired ‘the best minds.’

“Time was, Royster was right.

“Walk into the newsroom of any of your 90 newspapers today. Or head down to one of your local TV stations. Look around. Better yet, pop down to Nashville and visit with the writers and editors at The Tennessean. Then ask yourself whether any of these news people have the brains to make partner at the blue-chip law firm downtown, or receive tenure at a top university, or become a talented surgeon. You already know the answer, and so do I. With a few exceptions—some of the journalists at The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and a few others—the staffs of daily newsrooms today are largely composed of unimpressive people doing singularly unimpressive work. Call it the ‘Department of Motor Vehicle-ization’ of the news business.”

Read here.

Deadline Club winners dominated by biz journalism

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Although there is two categories for business journalism, the winners of many of the other categories for the Deadline Club contest, organized by the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, were business journalists or stories about how business is affecting society.

Ellen Schultz of the Wall Street Journal, for example, won in the beat reporting category. The judges wrote, “Ellen Schultz’s thorough and innovative coverage of the complex world of pensions exposes how federal benefits law has gradually shifted its protections from employees to the companies that employ them. Her writing illuminates what could be a mundane topic by combining well-researched reporting with compelling accounts of the effects these changes on people ranging from widows to former NFL players. By distilling arcane financial data into something easily understood she produces original and oftentimes surprising stories that not only explain complicated pension issues, but provide a service to readers.”

Erik Schatzker
, Gavin Serkin, Peter Robison, Ann Saphir, Walden Siew, John Dooley, Otis Bilodeau and Malcom Shearmur of Bloomberg News won in the spot news category for their coverage of the Refco debacle. The judges wrote, “Our judges were impressed with the amount of detail and clarity the Bloomberg reporters were able to squeeze into their stories under heavy deadline pressure. Their ability to craft six stories that were both informative and insightful within a 24-hour time-frame left us wondering whether there were any details for anyone else to report.”

China & India: What you Need to know nowPete Engardio, Manjeet Kripalani, Dexter Roberts, Brian Bremner, Steve Hamm, Bruce Einhorn, Frederik Balfour and the staff at BusinessWeek won for “China & India: What You Need To Know Now” in the business feature category. The judges wrote, “Everything an American investor ever wanted to know about China and India. A wide-ranging package of six ‘chapters’ any one of which would be a good examination of its subject matter, with 21 articles. Great breadth and scope, clearly setting forth the unconventionally examined challenged that are faced.”

David Evans, Michael Smith and Liz Willen of Bloomberg News won in the business series or investigative reporting category for “Big Pharma’s Shameful Secret.” The judges wrote, “This series addresses subcontracted clinical trials. This series feels like journalism at its best — driven by the reporters’ curiosity, initiative and ultimately focused indignation over a system that exploits the most vulnerable for profit. The team never fails to get the other side but is unflinching in calling it the way they see it after what is clearly an enormous amount of reporting.”

See all of the winners here.

New biz editor at South China Morning Post

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Stuart Jackson, who had been the business editor at the Hong Kong Standard, and before that was a high-ranking editor at Bloomberg News and at BusinessWeek, has been named the business editor of the South China Morning Post, according to this blog.

He was hired by Mark Clifford, himself a former BusinessWeek person. The blog noted, “Jackson is taking over the reins from Simon Pritchard, who left a month or two ago, and whom I quite liked. I’m not sure why or when Jackson left Bloomberg and didn’t realize he ended up at the Standard. But it makes sense since both he and Clifford worked at Business Week.”

KC Star to cut stock listings, add space for stories

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Chris Lester, the Kansas City Star’s assistant manaing editor for business, wrote in Wednesday’s paper that the business section will be cutting its stock listings once again — this time from 3,000 to 1,000 stocks daily — and will use that space to provide additional editorial content.

Chris LesterLester writes, “we will be able to devote more space to news and feature stories in every business section we produce during the week, even though our sections will be printed on smaller pages. We managed to make that happen, in part, through a thorough review of our presentation of financial data in our stock and mutual fund pages.

“Readers will notice a variety of changes in the financial market tables aimed at providing concise, value-added market news while also opening up more room for stories.

“We are hardly alone in making such changes, which will mark the fourth financial table redesign we’ve made since 2000.”

Read more here. Lester said that there will be an additional two pages of editorial content on Tuesday and more than a page on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Bernanke says comments to Bartiromo were a mistake

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Federal Reserve board chairman Ben Bernanke testified before Congress on Tuesday, and he called his comments to CNBC business journalism Maria Bartrimo at the White House Correspondents Association dinner a mistake. Bartiromo aried a report that noted Bernanke felt that the market and the media had misinterpreted his opinion about the economy, which caused the market to drop.

Ben BernankeThis wire report noted, “Responding to questions from Sen. Jim Bunning (R., Ky.) at a hearing on financial literacy, Mr. Bernanke pledged that he would make future communications through normal channels.

“Ms. Bartiromo caused a stir in financial markets when she reported that Mr. Bernanke told her at the White House correspondents’ dinner in late April that financial markets had misconstrued previous congressional testimony. Many analysts had taken that testimony to suggest the central bank was prepared to pause its nearly two-year rate-increase campaign, and Ms. Bartiromo’s report caused a jump in Treasury yields.

“‘In the future, my communications to the public and to the markets will be entirely through regular and formal channels,’ Mr. Bernanke said.

“Mr. Bernanke was also challenged by Mr. Bunning on the Fed’s most recent decision to raise the Federal funds rate by a quarter percentage point to 5%, a 16th-straight increase of that magnitude. Mr. Bunning said those rate increases have made it tougher for U.S. households to borrow.”