Tag Archives: Reporting tips
Ovide writes, “Bloomberg News flashed out fiscal second-quarter numbers and guidance from NetApp before 3 p.m. this afternoon, after the news outlet said it found the Web address where NetApp earnings were sitting. The company had planned to release its results after the close of trading at 4 p.m.
“‘We found the release posted on the company’s website without any required password or firewall,’ Bloomberg News said in a statement. ‘The company failed to respond to multiple calls from us to verify the information on their website before we published our story.’
“According to people familiar with the news outlet’s procedures, Bloomberg News journalists frequently scour corporate websites to see if they can find news releases posted early by companies who are parking news online expecting no one will see them.
“These people say, for example, the Bloomberg journalists will type the Web address for a company’s first quarter earnings release, and then adjust the URL just to change the number of the quarter.”
Read more here.
Michael Arrington, the founder and editor of the technology news site TechCrunch, writes in the latest issue of Inc. magazine about how he does his job.
Arrington writes, “If news is breaking, I want to be on it. We break more big stories than everyone else combined in tech — and that’s not prebriefed news or something that was handed to us. I judge my own performance based on that. When we break a story, that’s a point. When someone else breaks a story, we’re minus a point. And I want to be positive points.
“I try to get up at 9 a.m. every day. One of the things my doctor wants me to do is regulate my sleep. A year ago, I’d work until I passed out, and wake up eight or nine hours later, which might be 4 p.m. or 3 a.m. Then I’d work again until I passed out. That was my life for four years — it got really bad. I missed a lot of social things. I didn’t keep up with friends. I was a mess. I actually gained 50 pounds in the five years since I started TechCrunch. So now I’m working with a doctor and trying to get reset. Getting up at the same time every day is apparently one of the best things you can do health-wise. The problem is, I still don’t go to sleep very early. So I’m usually working on four or five hours of sleep. Then I make it up on the weekends.
“The very first thing I do in the morning is go right to my computer, which is always on. I’ll scan my e-mail for breaking news. If something big is going on, I’ll decide if I want to cover the story or assign it to another writer. Say a source sends me a tip that Google is buying Microsoft, and it’s going to break later today — I’m making this up, but that would be a big story. I’d start calling people at Google and Microsoft to see if it’s true or not.”
Read more here.
Merrill Perlman, the former head of the New York Times copy desk who is now an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University, reviews the new “Financial Writer’s Stylebook” for the Columbia Journalism Review.
Perlman writes, “Written by Chris Roush and Bill Cloud, both professors at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, it’s a handy and much-needed guide through the sometimes tortured, sometimes funny jargon of the business world. (Full disclosure: Cloud is a board member of the American Copy Editors Society Education Fund, of which this columnist is president.)
“The book, just published by Marion Street Press, lists not just those somewhat rare terms, defined below, and more basic terms in business writing, it also gives guidelines on how to report an earnings story, a skill increasingly important as companies become more adept at hiding their true financial health. Roush and Cloud rate the obtuseness of terms from $ to $$$$$, so writers will have an idea of whether they need to define them for readers of their publications.
“It also has many company names, perhaps less useful as mergers and acquisitions add and erase names quickly, and some seemingly random trademarks, and includes legal issues and ethics guides for business journalism. (An online companion, scheduled to launch in January, will allow updates.)”
Read more here.
Katie Johnston Chase, a business reporter at the Boston Globe, talks about how her job is to explain the world to readers. Johnston Chase covers travel, tourism and workplace issues.
by Chris Roush
How she got those names is classic business reporting. According to a lawyer representing the investors, she looked over the shoulder of an employee who had a list of those attending the meeting and read the list.
Kelly is now banned from attending any events that the lawyer’s firm hosts. I bet she’s quivering.
Here is the letter, which was obtained by FT Alphaville, the lawyer wrote to his clients:
To Those Who Attended our Conference on Robosigners:
I have just learned that CNBC purports to have reviewed a list of those who attended today’s conference. This morning CNBC asked me for a list, and I refused. I told CNBC (as well as other journalists who asked) that we respected the privacy of those who did not want their attendance to be publicized. Apparently, CNBC’s reporter looked over the shoulder of our employee who was receiving our guests and who had a list of those who had registered. I have told CNBC that that reporter is not welcome to return to any conference that we sponsor.
Keeping confidences is our most important obligation. My colleagues and I apologize profusely to those whose attendance at our conference was publicized in this underhanded way.
Here is the power of a good business journalism story: David Hench of the Portland Press Herald in Maine reports Thursday that the city’s police department has stopped using a Remington rifle after a CNBC story called its effectiveness into question.
Hench writes, “A program on CNBC last week highlighted several reports that Remington 700 rifles — a mainstay for the U.S. military, law enforcement and gun enthusiasts — had fired when the trigger had not been pulled.
“The program’s findings were bolstered by a video taken at a Portland police training exercise. One of the rifles was shown firing when the trigger was not being pulled.
“‘I don’t want to run the risk of having an accidental discharge like this where it puts an officer’s or community member’s life in danger,’ Police Chief James Craig said Wednesday.
“Remington denies the allegations and, supported by gun rights advocates, criticizes the network’s reporting of the story.”
Read more here. The show is re-airing tonight at 8 p.m. EST.
by Chris Roush
Justin Fox, the editorial director of the Harvard Business Review Group, isn’t enamored with the prose of business journalist Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times, but her stories do stand out for another reason.
Fox writes, “The anger comes about because Morgenson so often gets basic facts wrong, seemingly misunderstands the businesses she covers, offers assertions that she fails to back up with evidence — that kind of stuff.
“Which makes it only more aggravating when she so often eventually turns out to have been far closer to right than her critics were. For example, Morgenson claimed in March 2007 that the mortgage market was headed for a big crisis. What a wild assertion! As one Felix Salmon wrote immediately afterward: ‘Morgenson adduces no evidence whatsoever that any crisis is looming at all.’ (I figure it’s okay to pick on Felix for this because I came very close to writing exactly the same thing at the time but was just too lazy to actually do it.)
“If this had just happened once, okay. But Morgenson was also among the first and most persistent on the case of the Wall Street scandals of the early 2000s. She also really spotlighted aspects of the financial crisis of the past few years that the rest of the media only got around to months later. Forget Nouriel Roubini or Bob Shiller; Gretchen Morgenson may be the most reliable early warning device around.
“How does she accomplish this? I think it’s partly that the same bullheadedness and simplistic approach that drives readers like me and Felix crazy actually enables Morgenson to zero in on targets that those more interested in nuance totally miss. It’s also that Morgenson suffuses her work with a sort of high moral dudgeon—and disgust for the evil ways of Wall Street — that more ‘sophisticated’ journalists won’t allow themselves.”
Read more here.
Matt Manochio of the Parsippany Daily Record in New Jersey interviewed Fox Business Network anchor Neil Cavuto about his plans for election day coverage.
“‘It’s all green. I follow the green,’ he said.
“He said his goal is to look at the big issues, giving an example of framing a collapsing U.S. dollar story as the world rejecting the United States … and the possible consequences.
“He said the network’s aim is to avoid bogging down viewers with financial stats and jargon.
“‘I’m trying to always find a way to give the vegetables but put them in pudding,’ he said.”
Read more here.
Dana Meredith, a University of Kansas student and an intern at the American Copy Editors Society, writes on the organization’s site about “The Financial Writer’s Stylebook,” a new stylebook aimed at business reporters and editors.
Meredith writes, “Roush and Cloud consulted several prominent business journalists — including Allan Sloan of Fortune — as they assembled the guide, but also sought the input of less experienced writers.
“‘I gave it to my students in a business journalism class,’ Roush said. ‘It was very helpful. Somebody who’s new to business journalism looks at things a whole lot differently than someone who’s been a business journalist for 15 or 20 years.’
“On Jan. 1, the guide also will have a companion website — fiwords.com — to which editors and writers can subscribe. The website will allow Roush and Cloud to expand definitions and try out new sections, such as those for specific industries.
“Roush and Cloud say it is too early to tell how the book is doing, but the feedback they had gotten is positive.”
Read more here.
Courtney Sherwood, the business editor of The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., writes Sunday about how the paper is trying to improve its business coverage.
Sherwood writes, “Example one: The Columbian serves all of Clark County, not just Vancouver. Yet 78 percent of the stories we’ve run about businesses or events since Aug. 1 have been based in Vancouver. That’s disproportionate. We need to do a better job of covering the economic, financial and business activities of northern and eastern Clark County. Now that we’ve identified this shortcoming, we will try harder to cover all of Clark County.
“Example two: For more than 20 years, The Columbian has run a weekly feature called ‘Clark County at Work,’ which provides a quick snapshot of a local business. Starting with Saturday’s story, we’re making a few small changes to the feature.
“Too many of these companies have been small one-person shops who nominate themselves in an effort to try to drum up publicity and sales. I don’t blame them, but the result is that we get a distorted view of Clark County’s business community. To include a broader range of local businesses, we are now using a small-business database to help identify folks we might have overlooked.”
Read more here.