Posts filed under 'Fortune'
By Ben Haber
This week I interviewed Bethany McLean, co-author of the newly released book, All The Devils Are Here. As you may remember, Bethany is the one who broke open the Enron story in 2001 when she was working at Fortune, and followed up her groundbreaking story with a book on the scandal. For All The Devils Are Here, Bethany teamed with New York Times reporter Joe Nocera to tell the story of the financial crisis that took down Wall Street and significantly altered everyone’s lives in one way or another (you can read our review of the book here).
When speaking with Bethany it’s immediately apparent how knowledgeable she is about the financial crisis. She is quick to point out that the crisis has a very strong human element, both in the way it came about and its affects. As we continue to talk it becomes clear that one of Bethany’s most powerful tools is her voice – a mixture of kindness and humility – that could make even the most closed off person open up to her.
Here is a transcript of our conversation:
RaceTalk (Q): All the Devils Are Here seems like a natural progression from your first book, The Smartest Guys in the Room. How did that prior experience benefit you while researching and interviewing sources for your new book?
Bethany McLean (A): It benefited me in that I knew how hard it was and didn’t expect it to be any different. Working on the Enron book was really tough because there was a criminal investigation going and it was really hard to get people to talk. There were days and weeks even were you felt like you weren’t getting anywhere and that can be deeply frustrating. This book, at least certain parts of this book, was the same way where it was hard to get people to talk and hard to feel like you were making progress or learning things that you needed to learn and I knew that. I knew that eventually if you just keep pushing you’ll get enough to be able to put it together so I knew not to despair.
Q: Were there times when you thought that it just wasn’t going to happen?
A: Yes, definitely. This book I think was probably even harder than the Enron book because there were so many other good books that had come out already. So Joe, my co-author, and I definitely had moments of what are we doing, do we have anything fresh to say, and how do we structure this? You couldn’t tell the entire story of the crisis. By which I mean, you can’t write about Citigroup and Lehman and what went wrong overseas or you’d have a two-thousand page manual. So in some ways you had to pick and choose what the right way to tell the story was so we constantly had second guessing. Are we going down a path that isn’t going to take us anywhere? Should we really be telling the story through Merrill Lynch rather than Citigroup? That sort of second guessing in a book like Enron, it’s a story of Enron, so everything fits. Not that there wasn’t some second guessing about some rabbit holes on that book, but the second guessing wasn’t as extreme.
Q: Obviously you have a lot of connections based on your experience as a reporter and through Enron book, did you find that difficult to find some people to open up to you or were they willing to talk?
A: No, this book is the same as any investigative project which is that you can’t talk to everybody you want to talk to and you always wish you could because the more people you can talk to the more of a shot at truth you have. But as with any story or any book, there are people you want to talk to that simply aren’t going to want to talk to you. You have to try to make that work as best you can. Certain parts of this book were really hard too. Not all of it, but certain parts of it.
Q: Were there conversations you had with people that were only off the record so that they would give you information not to be used in the story, but just to be used in your research?
A: I guess there were a few of those. It’s far more common and there were a lot of background conversations where I could use things, but people didn’t want their names used. Not so much explicitly off the record stuff. I’m very hesitant about explicitly off the record stuff because you can’t set up a divide in your own mind. Once you know something then you know it. So how does that then inform the way you tell the story? In other words, people have to be very clear about what they mean by off the record and I don’t want you to use that. If they simply don’t want the words to appear in print then okay you can abide by that, but if somebody wants to tell you something but they don’t want it to shape your thinking in anyway, well, that’s kind of impossible.
Q: What was the most shocking thing that you discovered while writing the book?
A: I think for me the biggest surprise was that when I started the book [I had] far more of a bias toward the borrowers that were responsible. I guess it speaks to myself as a very independent, non-partisan, non-ideological [person], but if I’ve got an ideology, I suppose I’d say it’s a bias toward personal responsibility. I even wrote about that for the Times before we even really delve into the book. What about the borrowers? Let’s blame people who took out loans too. I still feel that way. I don’t mean to absolve borrowers without personal responsibility. I think that society is lost. But at the same time I was stunned to see how much people sold loans rather than bought them. And I’ll point to two distinct episodes. One was digging into the consumer activists of the 1990s and seeing how they were trying to stop this lending from the mid 1990s on and just weren’t being listened to. And that was a real turning point because I think the conventional viewpoint would probably be that consumer activists were out there saying ‘give people more credit! Provide Credit! Equal credit for all!’ and they weren’t. They were out there saying ‘we’ve got to stop this. People are getting loans they can’t pay back.’ I guess the second big turning point would be the internal Washington Mutual documents showing how Washington Mutual tried to convince people who had a 30 or 6th rate mortgage to take out an option arm instead because Washington Mutual could turn around and sell that product for money to Wall Street. That was another really telling moment.
Q: How did you and Joe come to the decision to collaborate on this book?
A: Basically it was his idea. We were sitting in Chicago, I think it might have been the weekend that Lehman went under, maybe the weekend before, but it was around that time. I had been talking to my publisher about doing another book that they wanted and I drafted a proposal, but it wasn’t really working. Joe said ‘why don’t you scrap that’ and ‘why don’t we do a book on the financial crisis together’. We were both immediately for it. I think Joe wanted to write a book about this and I wanted to work with Joe again so we both got what we wanted.
Q: When dealing with this type of monumental crisis that affects so many people in the U.S. and around the world, how important is the role of investigative journalism in providing the public with an accurate depiction of the events that occurred and the people behind it?
Q: I think it’s real important both for the reason you articulate that it sheds light on what went on behind the scenes and it makes it digestible and tells a story. There have been no shortage of academic journals written trying to explain the crisis, but even I can barely get through them. This is our world and its going to shape the world we live in and it’s really important for people to have an understanding of that. I guess I’d add a third layer to it which is that I think it’s really important for people to understand the human components of business stories. And that’s what I try to do in The Smartest Guys in the Room, and here again, I think some characters have sympathetic elements to them that people wouldn’t have predicted, but that’s human nature. There is rarely such a thing, there are some, but there is rarely such a thing as an absolute devil or an absolute angel. They are people who often find their fatal flaws brought out by circumstances and in the end, these are very human stories. I don’t think we do ourselves any favors by saying ‘oh only an absolute villain could have created a sub-prime lending empire like Countrywide’ because it’s never that simple.
Q: Given the information that was made public in your books and your new position at Slate, do you think sources might be hesitant to speak with you about certain topics moving forward?
A: That has not been my experience. I think most of the time people either want to talk or they don’t want to talk and it doesn’t have a hell of a lot to do with the personality of the journalist on the other end of the phone. Most of the time people either feel like they have a story and they want to tell it or they don’t want under any circumstances. I feel like the great majority of the people that you reach out to, your name is kind of incidental. I think and I hope and this might be kind of sectionalized because the people that choose to talk to me, but I’ve gotten a reputation for being fair through my work. People feel like they can trust me to be fair. Like I said, that may or may not be fair because it’s the people who choose to talk to me who tell me that stuff. I hope my work has made people more inclined to talk to me rather than less so.
Q: I have one more question for you and it’s a little bit lighter. I saw both of your guest spots on the Colbert Report and the Daily Show and we were wondering which one you enjoyed being on more?
A: That’s a tough question because it’s so flattering to be asked to be on to either one of them that your predominate emotion is gratitude. Thank you for being interested in me, and there are so many more interesting people in the world and you chose me. Wow! After that which I’d say is 95 percent of it, I guess Jon Stewart for me is, maybe easier isn’t really the right word, but I think Colbert’s humor is…I know how funny people find him, but I was literally tongue tied in that interview and I’m never tongue tied. I just couldn’t think of anything to say because he’s just so funny, but so strange that you don’t quite know what to do sometimes. And that’s awkward when its national television, right? It’s not that I don’t totally appreciate him and think he’s totally amazing, it’s just that I guess it was a little less comfortable experience then the Daily Show.
December 1st, 2010
By Molly Galler
Two weeks ago RaceTalk was offered the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the book “All the Devils are Here” which is co-written by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera. We were immediately intrigued given both authors’ extensive history covering business and management in the media.
Bethany McLean is the former editor-at-large for Fortune magazine, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and the author of a book titled “The Smartest Guys in the Room.” Her book explores the behind the scenes drama that lead to the collapse of Enron. The book was later turned into a film. According to the Business Insider, McLean will begin a new role as a Wall Street and finance columnist for Slate in the coming weeks.
McLean’s co-author Joe Nocera (who RaceTalk interviewed after his sudden and aggressive call from Steve Jobs) is best known for his expert reporting on management and business for the New York Times. Prior to his current role, Nocera, like McLean, worked as an editor for Fortune magazine. He also wrote regular columns for GQ and Esquire and served as a contributing editor to Newsweek.
In their joint effort “All the Devils are Here” McLean and Nocera take an inside look into the United States financial crisis. The book opens with an eight page of glossary titled “Cast of Characters” to assist readers in remembering who is who. There are also two upfront page of nothing but critical acronyms! From the prologue alone the reader feels a knot in his/her stomach as the poor judgment and incredible greed comes to light.
I don’t want to give away too much for interested readers, but the tone of the book is set very early. In the first chapter we learn that a star at Merrill Lynch, John Breit, finds himself being pushed out because in his role as risk manager he was reporting findings that would slow the “growth” of the business. The reader gets the sinking feeling this is going to be one of the milder stories.
If you’re interested in the decisions and the key players that influenced the eventual topple of the U.S. economy, “All the Devils are Here” is a must read. Written by two of the most knowledgeable business reporters, this is an expertly detailed and analytical account of our nation’s financial demise. You can listen to McLean read an excerpt from the book on this Vanity Fair podcast.
If you find reading a 350 plus page book intimidating, you can experience a visual account of the financial crisis via the documentary “Inside Job” which is currently playing in theaters.
Thank you to Bethany McLean, Joe Nocera and their team for sharing their latest project with us here at RaceTalk. We’re frightened but enlightened.
November 16th, 2010
By Molly Galler
Of all the companies looking for a fearless leader to head their social media operations, I have to say this company is an unlikely choice. Not only do they dominate their primary industry, but they’ve branched out into several new frontiers on what seems like a weekly basis. Who is this hyper successful innovator?
None other than web giant Google. No, you didn’t misread that. Google, the number one search engine (sorry Bing, no matter how many products placements you do on Gossip Girl or the Rachel Zoe Project we still can’t be swayed), the creator of the increasingly popular Gmail, the blogging site Blogger and the photo sharing site Picasa is seeking to ramp up their social media presence in two major ways with the help of a new hire.
First, Google wants to build a social media offering uniquely their own. The launch of Google Buzz was met with extreme consumer discontent, and Google doesn’t want to continue playing second fiddle to Facebook and Twitter in the social media space.
Secondly, Google wants to improve the way it incorporates social media into its existing services. Seth Waintraub of Fortune’s BrainstormTech blog wrote, “Google has tried to play ball. They penned a deal with Twitter to embed a feed of related Tweets in its search results, among other moves.” While Google has this one collaboration with Twitter underway, there are a multitude of other options for strengthening their social media capabilities even within their existing services.
Sounds like a serious undertaking for Google’s newest employee. In her piece for GigaOm, Liz Gannes shares the job description being used by Google’s recruiter to find this diamond in the rough:
“This is a new and very strategic position, as Google knows it is late on this front and is appropriately humble about it. In Google’s view, conceptually, there are two ways to tackle social, each impacting who may be successful in this senior post: 1) building an innovative offering specifically in this area; or 2) developing the capability and integrating social into Google’s existing portfolio.”
While Google is on the hunt for this head of social media, there is also the possibility that Google could acquire an influential company in the social space and have that former CEO or president morph into this new set of responsibilities.
What do you think? Can Google find the right candidate to steer them towards social media domination?
May 11th, 2010
By Molly Galler
RaceTalk posted on Tuesday about the Apple/Gizmodo conflict involving a break in at the home of Gizmodo editor Brian Chen to recover an iPhone prototype. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show’s take on the situation (which aired last night) is a hilarious, sound bite filled segment titled “Appholes.”
Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune’s BrainstormTech blog wrote in a post today that his favorite Stewart rant was, “Apple, you guys were the rebels, man, the underdogs. People believed in you. But now, are you becoming The Man? Remember back in 1984, you had those awesome ads about overthrowing Big Brother? Look in the mirror, man!”
RaceTalk’s favorite segment gem asks, “The cops had to bash in the guy’s door? Don’t they know there’s an app for that?”
Enjoy Stewart’s plea to Apple to return to innovation, and step away from the home invasions.
April 29th, 2010
By Kyle Austin
The iPhone-leak saga rolled on today as news broke that the home of Gizmodo editor Brian Chen was raided by California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT – couldn’t make this name up) last Friday night. According to Chen’s account of the story, the team broke down his front door without him present, seizing four computers and two servers, in serving a warrant issued by the Superior Court of San Mateo.
The warrant and the ensuing confiscation of Chen’s computers hinges around the investigation into if Chen, Gizmodo and its parent company Gawker Media committed a felony by paying $5,000 for a lost, iPhone prototype. Was picking up the lost iPhone in a bar, asking around a bit and then selling the iPhone to Gizmodo a felony? Was the subsequent purchase of lost goods a felony? John Gruber thinks so.
Meanwhile, Nick Denton and Gawker seem happy to see this saga continue (free marketing and publicity). In fact, they’ve taken the issued warrant and seizure to propose that the Shield Law protects Brian Chen from the search and seizure as a journalist (full Gawker memo below). Denton proposed via Twitter that this case may finally give us the answer to the age old question – Are Bloggers Really Journalists? He may be watching too many old newspaper movies.
The Shield Law was established to protect journalists from having to give up sources that may have committed a crime, which would likely not apply in this case. Especially, if prosecutors are basing the search and seizure on the premise that Chen has committed a crime himself in this case. Therefore, while the reality is that California has been clear in defining bloggers as journalists (especially those working at a media company such as Gawker), the statue may simply not apply.
To make matters even more interesting (for conspiracy theorists) — many bloggers are pointing out that Apple serves on the steering committee of REACT.
Just another day in Silicon Valley.
April 27th, 2010
By Molly Galler
Yesterday in San Francisco Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg rolled out some big plans for his baby at the company’s 8th developer conference, f8. After combing through all the tech round ups, here are the major take aways:
Facebook global domination, one thumbs up at a time: The most notable announcement at f8 was that Facebook’s “Like” feature will now be available on any website that wishes to add the cheery sign of approval to its site. You can indicate your favor for anything on the web – a song, a recipe, a celebrity gossip post – all with one click.
While many support this web-wide expansion, others have strong concerns. John Sutter of CNN writes, “A consequence of these “like” buttons will be that your friends’ Facebook profile photos will start showing up all over the web. If you see your friends’ smiling faces online, it’s an indication that they have clicked a “like” button on the website you’re visiting. In a way, they’re recommending it to you.”
While those concerned with privacy issues are shrieking and scrambling in horror, marketers are smiling and planning ways utilize this public display of brand loyalty to move the sales needle.
Log in, plug in: In addition to the “Like” feature on websites outside of Facebook itself, the company is also going to allow sites to show Facebook user preferences without needing to log into that specific site. For example, if you frequent the music site Pandora, you will be able to see your friends’ music preferences based on their Facebook music preferences. Miguel Helft at the New York Times dives deeper with Pandora CTO Tom Conrad:
“It makes it really, really easy to ring your friends into Pandora and discover the music they’re experiencing,” Mr. Conrad said. Mr. Conrad started listening to a band and a picture of one of his Facebook friends who likes the same band showed up. With a click on that picture, we were able to see all the other bands that his friend also liked.
The features also allow Pandora to know which bands users have included in their Facebook profiles and begin playing music from those bands. That makes it easy for Pandora to begin playing music for new users without requiring them to type in their music preferences.
“Pandora is finally social,” Mr. Conrad said. And he said that Mr. Zuckerberg deserved all the credit for the changes. “You get a personalization with no clicks, and that was Mark’s idea.”
My friends and I already share Pandora station and Grooveshark playlist recommendations and this takes out the need for a third party mode of sharing. Tech and social media guru Robert Scoble tweeted this morning to his 121, 500 plus followers:
@scobleizer: OK, I’m sold on the new Facebook stuff. The new Pandora is FREAKING AWESOME.
So what does it all mean? In his keynote address at f8 Mark Zuckerberg explained, “The Web is at a really important turning point now. Most things aren’t social, and they don’t use your real identity. This is really starting to change.” This new expansion of Facebook preferences into the broader web begins that transition from stagnant to social on the broadest of scales.
These moves are not altruistic, of course. Facebook is opening the door to a whole new set of tactics from marketers and promoters, as well as increasing new opportunities for their own revenue stream.
Jon Swartz of USA Today wrote, “If successful, these functions could help Facebook gain valuable insights about millions of consumers and help it sell more advertising in its escalating rivalry with online ad leader Google.”
You hear that Google? Mark’s coming for you.
Former Fortune writer and author of the soon to be released book The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick, summed it up best in a tweet today:
@DavidKirkpatric: Facebook’s f8 yesterday represents a sea change for the company–now the world clearly sees the scope of its ambition.
April 22nd, 2010
By Molly Galler
Today is the first day of the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, TX. From all corners of the earth musicians, film makers and techies join forces for a week of round the clock events and celebrations.
This year, taking center stage on the tech side are GPS based social networks. If you are an active Twitter user, you have seen these updates in your feed. Perhaps a friend has announced they’ve become the mayor of Starbucks thanks to Foursquare. These social networks are becoming more popular and their hope is to become widely adopted by the end of this week.
Caroline Waxler wrote a piece today for Fortune magazine’s Brainstorm Tech blog in which she explains that two heavy hitters in the location-tagging social network space, Foursquare and Austin based hometown hero Gowalla, are viewing South by Southwest as the perfect venue to show their network’s superiority. On the head-to-head match up she writes:
“This is so closely watched at South by Southwest not because people feel like they’re witnessing magic but more for two reasons: One, everyone loves a good rivalry and two, South By Southwest attendees by definition love to geek out. (It’s affectionately known as “spring break for nerds.”) And, what better way to do that than to compete over who is the top visitor to the various venues associated with it? Foursquare is even giving out temporary tattoos to commemorate those achievements.”
Why all the fuss over this one conference? Jenna Wortham of the New York Times wrote on today’s Bits blog:
“For start-up hopefuls, capturing the fancy of the attendees is almost as important as checking out the panels and parties. The high concentration of tech savants supplies a rare opportunity for companies to woo the eyes and clicks of early adopters and influential Twitter users and bloggers capable of elevating their sites and services out of obscurity.”
SXSW runs today through Sunday March 21st and in that time frame Foursquare and Gowalla hope that the heavy hitters in tech will not only adopt their social networks into their daily lives, but spread the word to the masses. One location at a time.
March 12th, 2010
By Molly Galler
Don’t forget to make a wish!
Today Facebook turns 6 years old. While most 6 year olds are navigating the perilous world of first grade and still learning to dress themselves, Facebook is a prodigy.
It’s hard to remember a time when Facebook wasn’t a part of our every day lives. Now when you meet someone new, you “friend” them. When you want to keep someone from knowing what’s happening in your life, you “defriend” them. When you take pictures at a celebration or on vacation you exclaim, “Don’t worry, I’ll tag you!” When you want to wish a friend a happy birthday, you post to their Facebook wall, maybe you even send a Facebook gift (maybe you even rely on Facebook to tell you when their birthday is).
It’s hard to recall those early days when you had to be a Harvard student to access the site. The gates slowly began to creep open allowing other Ivy League students, and finally anyone with a college email address. Now people of all ages, across the globe need only their email address to access the world’s most talked about social networking site.
What is perhaps the most surprising development in the past 6 years is the way Facebook has impacted business. If you are a consumer facing brand and you do not have a Facebook group or fan page, you do not exist. Consumers are searching for companies and services via Facebook because that is where they spend most of their time online. Businesses have begun to push out major news via Facebook, drive traffic to their Facebook page via television commercials, and even offer special Facebook-only promotions.
Technology writer Jessi Hempel wrote a superb piece for Fortune Magazine, “Facebook Turns 6!” on the six ways Facebook has dramatically impacted our lives.
What is your topic pick for how Facebook has changed the game?
February 4th, 2010
By Kyle Austin
On Tuesday the Publishers Information Bureau released its 2009 year-end magazine advertising report. Not surprisingly the report revealed that ad pages during the Media Meltdown of 2009 were down 25.6 percent for the industry, while estimated revenues closed at $19.45 billion, a drop of 18.1 percent.
Compare this with the 11.7 percent in ad pages that dropped from 2007 – 2008 and the 17.5% percent drop in revenue during that time period.
Looking closer at key news and business magazines (the ones that still remain in print and open for business), it was a dreadful year in revenues and lost ad pages for their print businesses. BusinessWeek, which changed hands to Bloomberg’s control in 2009, was one of the biggest losers in-terms of ad pages for business magazines with a 33% drop-off. U.S News, which cut back on print to bi-weekly and then monthly in 2009, was the biggest loser in ad pages for “news magazines” with an 81% drop. Newsweek, which tried to become more like the Economist to push off its eventual death, dropped 25% in ad pages. This was worse than its 19% ad page drop as a true “news weekly” in 2008, but alas it was also during a far worse market.
Forbes more than doubled its ad page drop, increasing to 30% in 2009 from a 14% drop in 2008. Fortune had an even worse year as it prepares to shrink the number of issues it releases down from 25 to 18 in 2010. While its ad pages were nearly even between 2007 and 2008, it witnessed a 36% drop in ad pages for 2009.
The Economist, which somehow managed to actually grow ad pages by 4.4% in 2008, wasn’t immune this year either. Its ad pages dropped more than 20% as well in 2009.
All of this is very interesting, but the larger question is how long will these numbers even matter? 2010 will undoubtedly be the year that the pay-wall returns to Internet and larger revenue percentages shift from print to online. Soon the numbers here will only be a footnote, or perhaps non-existent, as print operations cease across the industry. So how will we calculate? Digital eReader ad pages anybody?
January 13th, 2010
By Kyle Austin
In his typical fashion, David Carr of the New York Times eloquently sums up in today’s Media Equation column why coverage of business isn’t following the business rebound. Or as he mixes words much better than I, “Business is a Beat Deflated.”
Despite, positive news on the economic front, those that cover business continue to be hit with painful developments, which Carr references:
- Last week the Wall Street Journal closed down its Boston office, which had been a long-time staple of deep-dive reporting and investigative journalism. Although they noted that some investigative function will remain, the closing ended Bill Bulkeley’s multi-decade run at the Journal. Bulkeley had been with the Journal for 37 years, covering technology since 1979. He was, up until his exit, the main beat reporter of IBM and EMC, two Fortune 500 staples. (Update: Bill noted to me earlier this week that he was “blindsided” by the closing and was still trying to figure out what was next after 3 decades there).
- BusinessWeek, was sold after 80 year’s of ownership by McGraw-Hill for as little as $2 million a few weeks ago.
- Fortune announced last week that it will cut back from 25 issues to 18 issues a year. In addition, insiders believe that additional cuts will occur across TIME Inc. magazine properties by the end of the year.
- Forbes already announced last week that it will cut a quarter of its staff.
- Carr doesn’t mention that his own paper will shed 100 news room jobs by the end of the year.
Carr uses the data to outline his theory that: “While the business of business may be back, the business of covering it with heroic narratives and upbeat glossy spreads most certainly is not. And probably never will be.”
Its hard to argue against and even tougher to explain to clients (especially CEO’s) that have grown accustomed to associating PR success with their appearances on glossy covers. Peter Himler touched on this last week, when looking at Michael Bush’s piece for Ad Age:
“There remains a vast swath of corporate communicators and their bosses in the C-suite for which a Twitterfeed, company blog, YouTube or Facebook page takes a distant backseat to a prominent piece in Business Week or The Journal or an appearance on ‘Today’ or ‘Squawk Box.’ Believe it or not, even a client’s by-line in the world’s most popular (and conversation catalyzing) blog Huffington Post isn’t viewed by many as having the same value as a piece in The New York Times or the New Yorker.”
It’s not going to get any better. As we know, the business of business journalism is broken in the digital age. With business updates by the second, readership for past-tense features are rapidly dwindling. Therefore, ad dollars that still exist, are moving away from the magazines and into new digital channels. However, Carr hits on something much deeper than just the business being broken. He attributes part of the collapse to consumer resentment and being out of date / touch:
“It’s not that the public has lost its appetite for stories about handsome men in three-piece suits who clink whiskey glasses at the end of a long, not-so-hard day while talking smack about their female co-workers. But “Mad Men” pretty much sates that need. The businessman as Colossus is by now a nostalgic impulse.”
It’s a valid argument. Heck, TIME is trying to leverage the resentment as a way to make money on its business coverage (cover above). Unfortunately, that isn’t a good story for TIME’s colleagues at Fortune, the Bill Bulkeley’s of the world or CEO’s looking to get their name in print – or even Google searches. Those that consume business media consume, as Carr notes “hope and aspiration.”
The issue of Fortune on newsstands now, adorned with a digital image of Obama and Google glasses will probably be one of the best-selling issues of the year. Just like this Economist cover probably was. Therefore, when I look back a few weeks ago to Bulkeley telling me in advance of a briefing that he and the WSJ Boston office were kept away from Obama’s cleantech discussion at MIT “because DC owns all Obama coverage,” it was probably a bad sign on a variety of fronts.
There just isn’t much hope in business journalism these days, unless you’re working on cable TV.
November 2nd, 2009