Tag Archives: Personal finance coverage
Helen Huntley, the personal finance editor at the St. Petersburg Times who accepted the paper’s buyout and is leaving after 37 years, writes about why she’s leaving business journalism.
Huntley’s last day is Aug. 29.
Huntley writes, “Until just a few months ago, retirement wasn’t on my radar. After working so many years, I wasn’t about to leave any of my Times benefits on the table, which meant working at least three more years. Then the Times offered to give me my benefits early and throw in a bonus. The offer, part of a program to reduce staff costs, almost seemed designed for me.
“I say ‘almost’ because I’m in good health and not ready to call it quits. And it’s not easy to leave a lifelong career behind. Although the journalism business is going through a painful transition now, I believe strongly in the value of journalism in shedding light in dark corners and providing information that helps people make good decisions about their lives. And some days it’s really fun. I got to interview John Templeton, Jack Bogle and other great people and even help catch that crook, Lou Pearlman. I have loved many things about my work and I support the education of future journalists through a scholarship fund at the University of Florida, my alma mater.
“But this decision was about the chance to try something new. One of the most enticing things about an encore career is the opportunity for personal growth that a new line of work offers. I like the idea of a flexible work schedule and continued engagement with the fascinating world of the financial markets. I like the idea of doing something different but still being able to use the knowledge I’ve gained writing about business and finance.
“I know I will be in for an adjustment. Instead of offering broad advice to thousands of readers, I’ll be giving detailed personalized advice to a small number of clients. Instead of working in a big office, I’ll be working in a small one, initially with just one other person. And, of course, there will be no paycheck. As anyone who has ever launched a new business knows, it’s both stimulating and scary.”
Brian Cronk, an assistant managing editor at Dow Jones Newswires and former ME for TheStreet.com, has been named managing editor of wealth management, according to an internal announcement from managing editor Neal Lipschutz.
Lipschutz writes, “Effective Aug. 18, Brian will take on the important new position of managing editor, wealth management. This builds on his current position at Dow Jones Newswires, where he oversees the personal finance and practice management reporting team. Brian will continue to lead his team of reporters to produce targeted news and commentary.Â Â
“His expanded duties will include helping launch this project, which will combine our wealth manager-targeted news and commentary withÂ some new content offerings, allÂ to be integrated with specific tools for wealth managers.Â Brian will report to me, but also willÂ continue to be guided in his efforts by Dow Jones News Service Managing Editor Linda Fung.Â
“The new project is one of several initiatives we are set to launch in coming months, based on expanded investment following the acquisition of Dow Jones by News Corp.
“Brian, a Dow Jones veteran, was most recently an assistant managing editor at Newswires. He spent 12 years at The Wall Street Journal, where he was editor for sections including Personal Journal, The Wall Street Journal Sunday, The WSJ Reports, The Wall Street Journal Europe and The Wall Street Journal Asia. Â Brian also had a brief stint as managing editor of TheStreet.com, where he led a team of staff reporters, editors and freelance writers on a broad range of content, with a focus on personal finance coverage.”
St. Petersburg Times personal finance editor Helen Huntley tells readers Tuesday on her “Money Talk” blog that her departure from the paper at the end of the month after 37 years means the beginning of a new career.
Huntley writes, “Although I am retiring from the Times, I am not actually retiring. I will be an independent financial adviser, offering advice on a fee-only basis, and will have an office in downtown St. Petersburg.”
In an e-mail to Talking Biz News, Huntley writes, “I will be opening an office in downtown St. Petersburg with a friend of mine who is already in this business. We’ll be Holifield Huntley.”
Huntley’s last day at the paper will be Aug. 29.
In the last two years, Huntley has been known for documenting the investment scam run by Lou Pearlman, a former music producer. He allegedly stole more than $300 million from banks and investors before being sentenced to prison earlier this year.
Eric Deggans, the media critic of the St. Petersburg Times, reports that longtime business journalist Helen Huntley is among those leaving the paper via a buyout.
Huntley, the personal finance editor, has been with the paper for more than 30 yearsÂ after getting her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. She also has a master’s degree in political science from the University of South Florida. Helen writes about investments, income taxes, personal finance and the economy.
She has taken business courses, including the educational program required of Certified Financial Planners. She recently passed her investment adviser exam.
In addition, Deggans reports, “Business editor Bob Trigaux will soon return to writing, resuming his three-times a week business column, while business reporter Kris Hundley moves to our investigative team.”
Read more here.
MSNBC.com will begin running data on mortgages, home equity lines and auto loans in its business section, according to an agreement with Bankrate.com.
A story on the site stated, “‘We chose Bankrate.com to provide a solution for this vital information because Bankrate is known for providing clear, objective and unbiased information on rates,’ said msnbc.com business editor Martin Wolk.
“Bankrate surveys nearly 5,000 financial institutions daily for rates on more than 300 financial products, including mortgages, certificates of deposit, auto loans and credit cards. Rates are submitted by financial institutions, then checked by a team of researchers including ‘mystery shoppers’ who verify that the advertised rates are truly available.
“Banks that fall afoul of a ‘three strikes’ policy are ejected from the system and must resubmit their documentation to be readmitted.”
Read more here. MSNBC.com will also run articles from Bankrate’s editorial staff.
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin is combining some of its Sunday personal finance coverage with other advice content to create a new section called Kokua, writes editor Frank Bridgewater.
Bridgewater writes, “Got a problem? Not sure whether to buy that annuity? Need help to keep that car going or find a job? Have pet peeves? Want ideas to make life easier, or tips for seniors?
“Look to Kokua, a new section full of suggestions and advice on a wide variety of everyday issues.
“Kokua Line, a popular mainstay of the paper written by June Watanabe, moves from the Hawaii section to head up the new section. The Sunday Wall Street Journal pages, with unmatched coverage of personal finance and consumer issues, leave the Sunday Business section to join Kokua.”
Read more here. Also in the new section is a column on jb hunting and another on simplifying your life.
Juston Jones of the New York Times writes Sunday about the new personal finance show launching on CNBC.
Jones writes, “Carmen Wong Ulrich, the host of a new personal finance program called ‘On the Money’ on CNBC, wonâ€™t mind if you watch her show while surfing the Internet on a laptop with one hand and sending text messages on a cellphone with the other.
“‘Iâ€™m very much a Web person,’ said Ms. Ulrich. ‘I know people will be watching my show with their computers open in front of them. For me, thatâ€™s normal because thatâ€™s how I watch TV.’
“Ms. Ulrich, 37, has been maintaining a blog called ‘On the Money’ on cnbc.com for the last month. The TV show with the same name will run Monday through Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern time, beginning Aug. 4. Ms. Ulrich said she planned to provide practical financial advice on a nightly basis. Viewers will be able to send text messages to and e-mail Ms. Ulrich to participate in the showâ€™s conversations in real-time.”
Read more here.
Ron Lieber joined the New York Times in May as its personal finance columnist after being the managing editor of FiLife, a personal finance Web site that is a joint venture between Dow Jones & Co. and IAC/Interactive.
Before that, Lieber wrote the “Green Thumb,” a managing-your-money column for The Wall Street Journal that covered a wide range of finance topics of interest to a broad swath of readers — the economics of paternity leave; how to avoid buying a “conflict” (or “blood”) diamond; and the lifetime cost of owning a pet.
He joined the Journal in 2002, as an original member of the Personal Journal team, writing about consumer travel, credit cards and other personal-money issues, like how to return wedding gifts for cash and how to borrow fancy jewels like the stars do for the Oscars..
Lieber previously worked for Fast Company and Fortune magazines, and has written several books. He is the co-author of â€œTaking Time Off,” which encouraged people to take a year off sometime before or during college, which rose to No. 4 on the Times’ paperback business bestseller list. He’s also the author of “Upstart Startups,” which chronicles the adventures of a couple of dozen young entrepreneurs in the late 1990s, and of â€œBest Entry-Level Jobs,” a Princeton Review guidebook.
In a recent e-mail interview with Talking Biz News, Lieber talked about his career and his column for the Times. What follows is an edited transcript.
1. When did you decide that you wanted to write about business and finance? What attracted you to the subject?
I first got turned on to the possibilities as a reporter at Lawyers Weekly USA, a newspaper for small firm lawyers, in 1993. My boss used to bring me clips of Edward Felsenthalâ€™s â€œLegal Beatâ€? columns, and I eventually started reading the whole paper. I was astounded at the creativity in every section – the sheer breadth of the story ideas — and I basically said to myself, â€œI want to do that.â€?
2. How did you focus on personal finance writing?
Fast forward nine years through two magazine jobs at Fortune and Fast Company, and Edward Felsenthal himself hired me to be part of the launch team for Personal Journal in 2002. I arrived with a passion for, among other things, frequent flier miles. From there, it was a half step to writing about the credit card industry. I just sort of took it from there, wandering into employee benefits and banking and other areas that hit you in the wallet.
3. What’s the hardest thing about writing about personal finance?
Explaining things in clear and simple terms, without oversimplifying. Taxes kill me. God bless Tom Herman, I donâ€™t know how he does it.
4. How do you come up with the topics that you write about?
Some ideas come from challenges I face in my own personal life. I tend to sweat this stuff pretty hard and often overthink it. Iâ€™m also getting terrific ideas from Times readers. I look for angles on the news. And Iâ€™m trying to approach the beat more like a critic, where worthy new products or services get a review, just as a new restaurant or movie would.
5. How “newsworthy” can you be in writing about personal finance?
Pretty newsworthy, these days, given all of the current economic challenges. In the very least, you can peg a lot of your work to where you are on the calendar at any given moment. Philanthropy, education costs and taxes, for instance, tend to be on peopleâ€™s minds more during certain times of the year.
6. How fine is the line that you walk between telling readers what to do with their moneyÂ and sounding like you’re the one giving them advice even though you’re not a registered financial planner?
I donâ€™t have a problem with giving basic financial advice. And if Iâ€™m getting too specific with any sort of advice, it means Iâ€™m probably taking an approach thatâ€™s too narrow and wonâ€™t interest or affect a large enough group of readers to make it worthwhile. So I find that I donâ€™t run into this problem all that often in the column itself.
7. Before you joined the Times, you worked for FiLife, a startup. What was that like?
It was an incredible learning experience. Having access to the best Internet minds at IAC, Dow Jonesâ€™s joint venture partner for FiLife, really helped me get smarter faster about how Web businesses are built.
8. Other than working for the same paper as your wife, what made you decide to work for the Times?
I wish I saw my wife more often! The Times offered a bunch of things — the space to write longer, the opportunity to write with a bit more voice, the freedom to explore some ideas that are a bit farther out, the strength of the coverage in areas that Iâ€™m passionate about outside of personal finance and the clear emphasis The Times is making on growing the Web site.
9. What are you hoping to accomplish with the Your Money column each week?
Iâ€™m trying to get people reading who wouldnâ€™t normally look at a personal finance column. That means using plain English, writing like I talk, avoiding jargon, trying to be funny or deploying mild stunts on occasion, telling stories (instead of giving orders from on high) and redefining personal finance way beyond just investing to topics that hit you in the wallet but you might not expect to be reading about in a personal finance column.
10. How much feedback do you get each week from readers? What types of things are they asking you about?
Anywhere from a couple of dozen to a couple of hundred e-mails each week. I try to answer every one, and I read them all. Often people have questions that lead to other columns. Many people find things that I missed, skipped (but shouldnâ€™t have) or glossed over, and soon weâ€™ll have ways of highlighting the best of those notes on nytimes.com/yourmoney. I get a lot of specific requests for financial advice too. I help where I can and in the very least try to point people to professionals or experts who might be able to help more.
11. What column so far has gotten the most reaction and why?
The one that may have sat at No. 1 on the most e-mailed list the longest so far was the piece where I posted two sample, fictitious letters, one from a lowballer trying to buy a house and the other from that houseâ€™s owner replying in kind. For many people, their home is their biggest asset, and thereâ€™s a lot of anxiety around the topic right now.
But I got over 500 e-mails after my first column, where I explained what I was going to try to do with the space and also laid out five first principles for thinking about money. I think people liked the Michael Pollan quote, and I also got a ton of notes about the comments I made about inter-generational conversations around money within families.Â
Anders Bylund of Ars Technica pens a critique of the new personal finance news Web site WalletPop and concludes that it could use some improvement.
Bylund writes, “WalletPop, as the new site is known, features a page design all its own, stripped bare of the usual set of links to other AOL properties like webmail, sports news, and so on. Instead, there’s a barrage of consumer-oriented financial tools such as loan calculators, deal finders, and retirement savings advice. But calling them ‘tools’ might be stretching the material a bit thin, because apart from the quite adequate assortment of calculators, it’s all a big heap of plain-Jane articles slotted into categories by simple tags.Â
“The real meat of WalletPop, then, is the article feed. Apart from a blog of its own, where all the original stuff here comes from, AOL draws on stories from Consumer Reports, Kiplinger, Bankrate, CNBC, Smart Money, and MainStreet.com. The blog posts tend to be of the short and sweet variety so far, where a story from non-partner sources like the NY Times or Guardian gets wrapped in 300 words or so and some advertising. In short, basic blog stuff.
“I don’t know if AOL will find new audiences with this site, or whether you’ll find the material so compelling that you abandon Yahoo Finance, Motley Fool, or whatever other source you go to for personal finance advice today. WalletPop does a good job of pulling together stories from across the net in one convenient place, and maybe you’re better off thinking of it as a fat news feed, packed with ads and a layout that can get tiresome for long articles.”
Read more here.
The new siteÂ will focus on all aspects of consumerÂ andÂ personal finance, while AOL Money & Finance willÂ continue to focus on business and investing news, tools and analysis.
AOL Money & Finance is one of the most visited finance sites, with more than 15.2 million unique visitors each month and more page views than any other financial site.
In addition toÂ WalletPop, AOL Money & FinanceÂ recently launchedÂ real-timeÂ quotes on its stock pages, a newÂ financialÂ video hub and has upgraded many of its investing and portfolio management tools. AOL Money & Finance currently features CNBC video content and continues to add more video content partners.
â€œWalletPop provides consumers something they increasingly need: a comprehensive, accessible, and community orientedÂ site focused exclusively onÂ the money matters of real people, such as debt management, finding the best deals,Â saving, retirement, insurance, mortgages, banking, taxesÂ and more,â€? said Marty Moe, senior vice president, AOL Money & Finance, in a statement.Â