Tag Archives: Personal finance coverage

Defending personal finance journalism


CNBC.com senior editor John Carney writes Wednesday in favor of personal finance journalism despite some claims that it is old news or a contrary indicator.

Carney writes, “Personal finance journalism is like a magical mirror that reflects back at the reader a slightly smarter and better looking version of himself.

“Once we understand this, it’s easy to see why even those of us who fall outside the mainstream can benefit from reading personal finance journalism. If you tend to be contrarian or just plain unorthodox, it can often be hard to put yourself in the mindset of people whose thinking is closer to the conventional wisdom. You need a guide to the conventional wisdom—at least as a confirmation that it is what you suspect it is.

“That’s where personal finance journalists come in. The most successful personal finance publications are the ones who are best at figuring out what the investing public thinks and then polishing up that thinking and selling it back to the investing public. That’s their real expertise: what people already think.”

Read more here.

NBC unit launches work and finance beta site


A division of NBC has rolled out a beta site called WorkGoesStrong.com that offer finance and work advice aimed at people between the ages of 45 and 64.

The site is a sister to similar Web portals being operated by Digital Works@NBCU, a division of iVillage Networks. The umbrella site, LifeGoesStrong.com, was launched in May and now averages 1.5 million unique visitors per month. Its verticals also include TechGoesStrong.com, PlayGoesStrong.com, StyleGoesStrong.com, FamilyGoesStrong.com and HealthGoesStrong.com.

The WorkGoesStrong.com site aims to help people to find work with career/job-seeking advice as well as guide them through career changes or retirement issues. The site also assists with money and finance concerns that the demographic is facing.

On the lighter side of these issues, one blogger on the WorkGoesStrong.com site is writing funny, informative essays on what it’s like to be the only 50-something at a company made up almost entirely of 20-somethings. Another writer is contributing personal essays about trying to find a job.

Of the 15 million unemployed Americans, 2.2 million are 55 or over, and nearly half have been unemployed for more than six months.

DISCLOSURE: I am one of the writers for the site.

Personal finance reporting and what it means


Personal finance journalist Kerry Hannon writes on Forbes.com about why she got into the beat and what she likes about it.

Hannon writes, “I relished interviewing CEOs of billion dollar corporations like global foodie Pittsburgh, Pa.-based H.J. Heinz Company, chemical and pharmaceutical giant, Bayer AG, and Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer, now a Berkshire Hathaway Company, among many others.

“But it was the nuts and bolts of everyday personal finance that I could relate to and share my expertise in a way that could really make a difference in people’s lives. I had been down the road, or was on it. I, too, had run up credit card debt in my 20s and had to learn how to pay down debt and run lean, land a mortgage, relocate, start my own business, and much more.

“An offshoot of this journey has been to delve deeply into issues of retirement and careers, which can spin off in many directions from nonprofit endeavors to entrepreneurial start-ups to basic smart money management.”

Read more here.

Detroit personal finance columnist wins award


Brian J. O’Connor, personal finance columnist for The Detroit News, has been named winner of the Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize at Columbia University.

The award goes to an exemplary piece of business journalism produced in the last 12 months by an alumnus of the Knight-Bagehot Fellowship.

O’Connor, a Knight-Bagehot Fellow from the class of 2001, was honored for his “Grand Experiment” series in The Detroit News, a series of columns where he humorously documents his attempt to cut $1,000 from his family budget.

The series also was named a “Best in Business” winner earlier this year by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Read more here.

Massachusetts paper adds consumer advocate column


The New Bedford Standard-Times in Massachusetts is adding a consumer advocate column that will appear in its Wednesday paper and will be written by business reporter Brian Boyd.

Editor Bob Unger writes, “We will call it ‘SouthCoast 411,’ where Boyd will answer your requests for information about a consumer problem or question. If you are wondering what kind of expenses might be included under ‘incidentals’ on your bill from the hospital, he will work to find out. If your mobile phone bill or electric bill has items on it that don’t make sense to you, Boyd will try to help.

“If you get a call or an e-mail from an organization asking you for money but you aren’t sure if it’s on the up and up, Boyd will try to find out and share with readers of The Standard-Times and SouthCoastToday.com exactly what he learns.

“‘Consumers,’ he said, ‘need good information to make good choices.’”

Read more here.

Minnesota paper changes weekend biz section


Jay Furst, the managing editor of the Rochester Post-Bulletin in Minnesota, writes about changes to the paper’s weekend business section.

Furst writes, “Your Money, which replaces the current Business section, will be all about personal finance, and here’s where the Wall Street Journal comes in. The Journal, as you likely know, is the Bible of capitalism and the most important business publication in America, and it makes some of its best content available to other papers.

“The Post-Bulletin is now one of that small and select number of papers. Your Money will feature the three-page Wall Street Journal report every weekend, with insight and advice from the nation’s top money experts. This is in addition to local personal finance reporting and columns.

“Also in Your Money: Dave Ramsey, one of the most popular financial advice columnists and media personalities in the business. Dave’s column will be a big part of this new section’s popularity, I’m convinced.”

Read more here.

Call the troubleshooter


John Drescher, the editor of The (Raleigh) News & Observer, writes Saturday about the paper’s consumer reporter, Leah Friedman, who has been helping readers fix problems with companies for the past two years.

Drescher writes, “She gets 10 to 12 tips a week. ‘I try to listen to everyone who calls,’ said Friedman, 33, who has reported for The N&O for five years. ‘Most just need to vent. Lots of people call for advice. I’m honored they think of me as a resource, but for ethical reasons, I don’t give advice. I’m not an expert.’

“She is surprised by how many people fall for scams. ‘Unfortunately, the economic downturn has left a lot of people desperate for what they think is quick, easy money. But there is no such thing.’

“She has written recently about bedbugs infesting an apartment; how much to tip hair stylists and cab drivers; and a dying man’s effort to get his landlord to return a $131.71 security deposit.

“Friedman says she will always remember her Troubleshooter last year about François Akakpo.

“He fled Togo as a political refugee. He arrived in Raleigh and started working in a cafeteria. He got a home phone and used a prepaid calling card to call family in Africa.

“Akakpo then received a bill of nearly $1,300 from AT&T for calls using a plan he did not sign for. The company first cut the bill, then dropped it altogether.”

Read more here.

Dealnews.com names editorial director


Beth Pinsker Gladstone, former editor of AOL WalletPop, has been named editorial director of Dealnews.com, according to a release Tuesday.

In her new role, Pinsker Gladstone will be responsible for increasing coverage of trends and analysis in the online and retail shopping arenas. She will also oversee the development and distribution of content related to breaking news, shopping advice, personal finance and video production, helping to further position dealnews as the top online shopping resource available on the web today.

“‘We’re very excited to have added Beth to the team of talented editors who help provide our readers with the best possible content for purchasing decisions,’ said Daniel de Grandpre, editor-in-chief and CEO of Dealnews.com, in a statement. ‘Beth not only brings with her significant expertise in personal finance, but also deep experience in content creation. Beth’s work will help further dealnews as a trusted, one-stop resource for our nearly 2 million unique monthly visitors who are seeking out the best deals and shopping advice online.’

Previously, Pinsker Gladstone was editor of WalletPop.com, the personal finance site owned by AOL, where she transformed the site from a small spin-off blog to a go-to personal finance resource.

Prior to that, Pinsker Gladstone was the business news editor for AOL’s Money & Finance team. She has also maintained a successful freelance career with stories on business news and entertainment, appearing in top-tier national publications including Wired, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

Personal finance story winners named


The McGraw-Hill Companies 2010 Personal Finance Journalism Awards will go to journalists from Mercado De Dinero, Telemundo and The Hartford Guardian for coverage of consumer debt and the housing crisis.

The winners are:

* First Place: Elizabeth Ostos for her article “Credit consolidation in a country in debt” in monthly newspaper Mercado de Dinero. The article illustrates the credit crisis in the United States through the lens of an immigrant family.

* Second Place: Carlos Rajo of Telemundo, Los Angeles, for his article “A House of Their Own: Is the American Dream too Expensive?” Rajo explains how the mortgage crisis has changed the perception of home ownership among the Hispanic community.

* Third Place: Ann Marie Adams of The Hartford Guardian for her story “Losing Ground: Foreclosure Rate Higher Among Minority Homeowners.” Adams details the particular hardships faced by minority homeowners in Connecticut facing foreclosure.

The journalists were among 30 reporters who participated in a 12-week online program, taught in English and Spanish. The program sought to provide in-depth knowledge of consumer finance issues of particular importance to minority communities.

The International Center for Journalists administers the program. Over three years, this program has trained more than 100 journalists throughout the United States. The McGraw-Hill Companies sponsors the program.

The winners will be honored Sept. 22 at The McGraw-Hill Cos.’ headquarters in New York. The New York Times personal finance columnist Ron Lieber will give the keynote address. He will also participate in a panel discussion with Hispanic personal finance expert Xavier Serbia. Serbia was the Spanish-language instructor for the course. ICFJ’s president Joyce Barnathan will moderate.

“These journalists tackled financial issues—and offered sound advice on how to avoid pitfalls,” said ICFJ’s Barnathan. “As a result, they are helping to make their communities stronger and more financially literate.”

Read more here.

DISCLOSURE: I am one of the instructors for the 12-week course and helped select the entries.

Former Oakland Tribune biz editor, columnist dies


Cliff Pletschet, whose personal investment columns appeared in the Oakland Tribune and other Bay Area News Group newspapers for more than 30 years until this spring, died Sunday in Oakland. He was 80.

A story on the Contra Costa Times site states, “Pletschet also served as business editor for the Oakland Tribune, but his real love was writing columns that deciphered the investment world. He often said that he knew what people needed: education and information to make better investment choices.

“Among some of the principles that he preached were to ‘buy equity not debt,’ ‘if you do not understand an investment, do not invest in it,’ and ‘set personal investment goals.’

“In one column explaining financial derivatives, Pletschet warned readers to stay away from any investments ‘that had so many moving parts.’ He also encouraged the purchase of stocks that paid dividends and discouraged investments that were not highly liquid.

“Fran Pletschet said that Cliff often received notes and cards from readers thanking him for advice that made them money.”

Read more here.