Tag Archives: Personal finance coverage

Consumer Reports to acquire Consumerist site

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Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times reports Wednesday that Consumer Reports has agreed to acquire the Consumerist site for an undisclosed price.

Clifford reports, “In buying Consumerist, Consumers Union is seeking to attract younger readers, with the hope of eventually selling them online or print subscriptions to Consumer Reports.

“It is also something of a logical fit. Consumerist is popular, with about 1.8 million unique visitors a month, according to the online measurement service Quantcast, but has had trouble attracting advertising because the site often criticizes companies. Consumer Reports does not accept advertising, and once the sale closes on Jan. 1, neither will Consumerist.

“Unlike most magazines, Consumer Reports makes its money from subscriptions, which cost $26 for the Web site or print edition. In the company’s last fiscal year, which ended May 31, it had $229 million in revenue — up 10.6 percent from the previous year — from Consumer Reports and a handful of smaller magazines.

“In a year that has been difficult for magazines, Consumer Reports’ subscription and newsstand sales have risen. Circulation was 4.6 million, up from 4.3 million in 2007. The Web site has 3.3 million subscribers.”

Read more here.

Baltimore Sun cuts Sunday standalone section

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The Baltimore Sun announced that its Sunday Money & Life section would begin appearing inside the A section, beginning next week.

A short announcement stated, “Features such as Eileen Ambrose‘s personal finance column and various articles and features on consumer and financial news will remain part of our Sunday coverage.”

That was the last business front left at the Sun. The daily section was moved inside the A section with the redesign this past summer.

Money & Life was a consumer section created last year to substitute for a traditional Sunday section. It was the primary print vehicles for Ambrose, a SABEW Best in Business winner in the columnist category last year, and Dan Thanh Dang, who won the AP Chesapeake Award for columnists — all types of columnists — last year.

Before it was announced that the section front was being killed, Dang, who was also the paper’s Consuming Interests blogger, took a buyout and left the paper. She’d been there 18 years as an intern, reporter and columnist, and the Sun was the only place she had ever worked.

"On the Money" taking Deutsch's 10 p.m. slot on CNBC

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Effective Thursday, CNBC‘s “On the Money,” hosted by Carmen Wong Ulrich, will air weeknights at 10  p.m.

It replaces “The Big Idea” with Donny Deutsch, which was put on hiatus earlier this month by the business network.

“On the Money” is a one-hour personal finance program that provides information to consumers these volatile economic times. “On the Money” explores personal finance options, guide consumers through information and choices and encourage them to make the best decisions for their life.

“On the Money” premiered at 8 p.m. on Aug. 4 and was then moved to 9 p.m. when “Wall Street Crisis” premiered as a series of special reports based on the financial crisis. That morphed into “CNBC Reports,” which remains in the 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. slot.

CNBC’s so-called “checkerboard” programs, including “American Greed” and other original longform programs, will air in the 9 p.m. slot. 

Consumer Reports in talks to acquire Consumerist site

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Hunter Walker of FishbowlNY reports that Consumer Reports has held talks to acquire the Consumerist Web site.

Walker writes, “A meeting was held yesterday between visiting executives and top Gawker management — including Consumerist editor Ben Popken — while Ken Weine, a spokesman for Consumer Reports‘ parent company Consumer Union, told FishbowlNY this afternoon that ‘we’ve had discussions about Consumerist and that’s all I can say at this time.’ Gawker publisher Nick Denton put Consumerist up for sale last month.

“The consumer watchdog blog would be a natural acquisition for Consumer Reports. Two weeks ago, Popken told PC World he was in ‘preliminary negotiations, but things look good’ regarding a purchase, adding that ‘the prospect is a good name everyone will be happy with.’

“So, which three Gawker Media employees learned last night that they’d been let go?

“Since putting Consumerist on the block, Denton’s been making rolling layoffs at the company: project manager Cia Bernales, technical producer Jory Stiefel, and community administrator Kaila Haile-Stern all learned last night that they’d been let go. Additionally, Sangraal Aiken, a senior Java developer, has gone from ‘a full-time employee to a contractor paid by the hour at a reduced rate,’ a source within the company says.”

Read more here.

The new boss at Kiplinger's

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Jennifer Nycz-Conner of the Washington Business Journal interviewed Janet Bodnar, who becomes the new editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance next month.

Here is an excerpt:

If you’re doing your job really well, what are you doing as editor? You really have to inspire your staff. You have to be excited about what you do. You have to make them excited about what you’re doing. You have to make them know they’re valued, telling them over and over how much you value what they do. I think that is really job one as far as the staff is concerned.

As far as being editor on the outside, it’s giving your readers what they need at this time. I mean, my gosh, this is even more challenging I think perhaps than the ’70s were. You have to know your reader, listen to them and be giving them the information that they need. And that’s what we specialize in here at Kiplinger’s. We kind of pioneered “you� journalism. This is what you should do in this kind of situation. That’s really what our stock in trade was. We keep the personal in personal finance. We write about it from the standpoint that people can relate to.

How do you keep content that you cover over and over fresh? Well, I’ll tell you: A financial crisis certainly helps. We’re writing stories about the new rules of investing. The new rules of retirement. The new rules of insurance. We’re having our own internal debates on do we want to change the rules? In the January issue, we do have a story on the new rules of investing, and the question is, are people really ready for this? The ‘new rules’ that some people are talking about are outside the comfort zone for very many people, including people like us who invest.

Read more here.

Personal finance guru takes show to TV

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Clark Howard, who has a syndicated radio show on personal finance that airs across the country, is taking is show to television, reports Rodney Ho of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Ho writes that the show will appear on CNN Headline News during the weekend.

Ho writes, “He’s not the first personal finance guru to make the jump from radio to cable TV. Nashville-based Dave Ramsey, who champions no-debt living, has had a prime time show on Fox Business News for about a year.

“Howard hopes his gig on the weekends will be successful enough to parlay into a weekday show as well. He noted that fellow radio host Glenn Beck’s payday went sky high once he got a TV gig, first with Headline News and next month, Fox News.

“During a rehearsal last week for one of his promos, Howard took out a dollar bill and pulled at it. ‘Was that too Crazy Eddie?’ he asked producer Scott Tufts, referencing a wacky sales guy for a now defunct electronics chain.”

Read more here.

Kavanaugh, host of radio financial advice show, dies at 57

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Mike Kavanaugh, who hosted the popular Money Matters financial advice show on WSB radio in the Atlanta market, died Saturday from a heart attack. He was 57.

Condace Pressley of WSB writes, “In addition to local radio and TV, Mike worked in the early days of CNN both as a radio anchor for daily business news and as a TV anchor for CNN Headline News.

“Kavanagh won numerous awards, including the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for the investigative report, ‘Ripped off in the Name of God” a series which exposed multi-million dollar investment scams. He also worked as part of the team backing up noted consumer advocate Clark Howard.

“‘He cared about every last person he dealt with about what would happened to them financially,’ said Clark. ‘Especially in this last year, he would shepherd people through the crisis. After a while that can begin to wear on you.’”

Read more here.

Kansas City Star cuts Sunday business section

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The Kansas City Star is moving its Sunday MoneyWise content to its Saturday paper, according to reader representative Derek Donovan.

Donovan writes, “The Saturday Business section is instead being retooled and expanded into ‘Dollars & Sense,’ which will also have a focus on personal-finance issues.  But yes, it’s a net cut not to have an extra stand-alone section on Sundays.”

“Others have also noticed that the daily Opinion section and Sunday Go travel section have seen cuts.  The Opinion section has lost one page a day Monday through Saturday, and Go is now just a single page on the back of A+E.

“No question: Both are victims of the paper’s current issues with ad revenue and the integration of digital media delivery.  Different editors will choose what to state explicitly about the changes they’re making in their sections, but readers want to know what’s going away and what’s changing.”

Read more here.

Why are personal finance magazines advising to buy now?

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Yvette Kantrow, the executive editor of The Deal, writes that personal finance magazines that are recommending their readers buy stocks now don’t really know what they’re talking about.

Kantrow writes, “So we trundle down to our local newsstand — we know, so very 20th century of us — to see what words of wisdom we can glean from the gurus of the personal finance press. We immediately feel better; these magazines understand our pain. Just look at their December cover lines: ‘Your Tough Times Money Guide,’ promises Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. ‘Rebuild Your Wealth,’ teases Smart Money. ‘Make Your Money Safe!’ exclaims Money magazine. So we dole out our $12 (also known as three tall lattes), scurry home and prepare to be educated.

“Here’s what we learn from our reading. We need to buy stocks. NOW.

Knight Kiplinger is. He says so right on the cover of his magazine. So is Warren Buffett — both Smart Money and Money tell us so, and both trot out the Oracle’s famous adage, ‘Be greedy when others are fearful,’ to kick us into action. We are not Buffett, of course, and the mags are careful to remind us of that, too — we shouldn’t try to do what he does, exactly, they say. But we should try to profit from his wisdom and realize that what we are witnessing isn’t just the worst market of our lives, it’s one of the greatest buying opportunities of all time. “

Read more here.

New head of FiLife named; Kansas to remain as editor at large

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Peter Kafka, who writes the Media Memo blog for the All Things Digital site, reports Tuesday that the personal finance Web site FiLife, a joint venture between IAC and Dow Jones & Co., has replaced president Dave Kansas.

Kafka writes, “The company has brought in Ezra Kucharz, formerly an executive at online games company Oberon Media and at NBC’s iVillage, as president. He replaces Dave Kansas, a business news veteran. Kansas will stay on as an editor-at-large; he has a personal finance book due out in January.

“FiLife, which is supposed to be geared toward young folks who spend more time browsing the Web than looking at their 401(k), has had a short but troubled existence. It finally launched in June after more than a year of fits and starts. It was originally supposed to have lots of blog-like entries from professional writers, and eventually moved into a more service-oriented comparison shopping engine for financial products.

“You could argue that economic turmoil could make a site like this particularly valuable for its target audience, but that doesn’t appear to be the case: Compare the performance of the site with Consumerist.com, a Gawker Media blog that’s now up for sale.”

Read more here. Kansas is a past president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.