PR/Media Week in Review 9-21-2008

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNews, PR/Media Week in ReviewWhat a week it was, starting with Lehman’s bankruptcy, through AIG’s bailout, wild gyrations in the market, capped with a supposed $700 billion plan for the government to enter the toxic mortgage business. What will next week bring? According to Joe Nocera of the NYTimes, the big government bailout is a Hail Mary pass that can be intercepted in the end zone. Several others agree. Stay tuned for the second half.

The worse the financial markets become, the more financial issues are pushed to the fore, especially in the heat of a Presidential race, the more more we rely on financial media to report and analyse critical issues. This week the Wall Street Journal online rolled out a radically new look with several intriguing social media tools – just in time for our greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Nobody has ever accused Rupert Murdoch of not being canny, propitious or just plain lucky.

Mark Rose Wall Street Journal ommunitiesThe Wall Street Journal Community is Murdoch’s attempt to offer the Journal audience a taste of MySpace, with message boards and interest-related groups, profiles, etc. This might work for business people who don’t find value in Facebook-like social communities and professional-level job hunters who want to participate in social media media without tarnishing their cred – or it might be one ‘online community’ too many.  Also, see All Things D. - meaning All Things Digital, from the Journal,playing to the natural geek tendencies of Wall Streeters and the high demographic Journal audience.

Murdoch moved rapidly to remake the moribund Journal print edition and online offering. Both desperately needed it. I suspect that the following weeks will be just as dramatic as the last – hundreds of billions of taxpayers dollars are at stake, the final days of the Presidential campaign are approaching, the stock market will likely react with wild swings, and we’ll rely on the financial media to explain it all. Rupert to the rescue!

I am now following NYTimes, L.A. Times Travel section and CBS Early Show on Twitter.  Mainstream media is beginning to catch on – and I may be seeing some value in Twitter beyond knowing that blah blah had a double macchiato in Seattle at 10:32 this morn. You can follow me at

Is Financial Media Aiding Wall Street Collapse?

Jon Friedman, MarketWatch columnistMarketWatch columnist Jon Friedman (left) has a provocative column today on the role of financial media in the continuing Wall Street crisis (the Dow is down over 330 points in early trading despite the government’s $85 bailout of AIG). Where is the skepticism and outrage at Wall Street titans that journalists direct to other news makers, asks Friedman. It is not about being disrespectful, it is about being tough and expressing the same frustration and hurt that “ordinary” citizens feel (especially when they are being extricated from the jobs by the thousands and billions in retirement income is being wiped out). See Media’s Wimpy Wall Street Coverage.

MarketWatch also extensively reports that a money market fund “breaks the buck” – a frightening development that indicates a wider, deeper impact of the credit crisis on “safe” investments favored by conservative retail investors. 

MarketWatch is an excellent source of financial news that goes deeper than mass outlets such as The New York Times or even Wall Street Journal (MarketWatch is a Dow Jones property). As the name implies, MarketWatch is focused entirely on market moving news and is sort of the people’s Bloomberg, geared to retail investors and traders. Jon Friedman consistently writes incisive columns that de-mystify financial news. He has strong opinions and backs them up with the flair of a tabloid reporter.

Floyd Norris at NYTimes gets a little wild on his blog today with Socialism, 21st Century Style, arguing that the government takeover of AIG is akin to nationalization of the largest insurer in the U.S. (Didn’t Harry Truman fail when he tried to do this with the steel industry?). The business news these days is scary but this is what financial reporters live for.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

Waiting for the other shoe to drop on Wall StreetIt’s been a harrowing couple of days as, one after another, financial institutions sputter on the brink of evaporation. The bulk of my 20 year career has been in financial PR, often representing Wall Street banks such as Lehman Brothers. In good times the work is heady and intellectually stimulating. You get to work with some brilliant people who are masters of complex financial maneuvers.  They are comfortable in their jobs, cocooned in their rich rewards, greasing the wheels of capitalism – until it all comes crashing down.

The financial media, by and large, disdain PR manipulations – they deal in facts and hard currency in legitmate story ideas and sources that can enlighten, analyze and inform. When a crisis hits, like now, Wall Street infiltrates main stream media and the politicians and commentators bellow about rampant greed and corruption that must be stopped.

The reality is that we will survive and occasional bloodletting keeps the system sound. The heap of toxic debt that is poisoning the system will be absorbed or regurgitated and Wall Street will invent new ways to securitize debt that will create mounds of wealth – until it doesn’t. It’s like the real estate market, feeding on natural boom and bust (all those unoccupied expensive condos in New York seem ghostly now).

Andrew Ross Sorkin, DealBook, The New York TimesThis is the time when financial media takes center stage and the machinations behind the fortress of the New York Fed becomes the inner sanctum we all want to crack. This is the time when the New York Times DealBook, edited by Andrew Ross Sorkin (right), becomes the central source we go to at three in the morning when we can’t sleep because we want to know if the Asian markets are preceding turmoil in the U.S. and the other shoe is about to drop. Andrew (he seems so young – what else can you call him?) is not simply a columnist or a reporter, although he is both. He is essentially publishing a newspaper within a newspaper with blogs, breaking news, analysis, background, graphs, charts and myriad visuals. If it’s not all there, you can catch him regularly on Charlie Rose for more.

Financial Online Media Blooms As Wall Street Collapses

Floyd Norris, chief financial correspondent, The New York Times, photo by Fred R. Conrad/The New York TimesFloyd Norris (left), the chief financial correspondent for The New York Times, has been the solid, authoritative dean of financial columnists for over 20 years. Floyd can be dense to read but he has gravitas – you have a vision of him pecking away on a manual Olivetti in a corner office heaped with 10-Ks and Deal memorandum.

But dig it – Floyd is now live blogging, filming videos, loosening up like a kid in a digital playpen. How do I know Floyd is live blogging? The NYTimes comm dept Twittered me an alert. Why is the Times business newsadvancing so rapidly into multimedia news (besides the obvous)? Because Rupert Murdoch is making good on his promise to challenge the Times with the remade Wall Street Journal web offering, rolling out just in time for the “day in which the U.S. financial system was shaken to its core,” as the Journal proclaimed on its home page today.

The Journal on the web has changed dramatically in the past couple of months, thankfully. Under Murdoch, at the Journal, like Fox, the 24 hour news cycle predominates, meaning constantly updated blogs, “raw” reporting (typos to be corrected in later iterations), and plenty of video. Murdoch is stitching together the high drama of financial intrigue with politics and style for a national audience - and he’s doing it in a surprisingly politically inclusive fashion.

The WSJ Labs offers some intriguing options for customizing the Journalexperience with RSS feeds, headlines delivered to your desktop as a screen saver and other techno/info goodies. Wall Streeters are tech geeks who spend their formative years glued into Bloomberg terminals. Murdoch has been at the forefront of integrating critical and frivolous information with new forms of digital delivery.

Ron Lieber, the recently installed “Your Money” reporter for NYTimes, video reported the same mantra you hear during every Wall Street crisis – don’t time the market, continue investing in equities, the stock market has always come back in the past, and will likely do so again – over time. It all depends how much time you have. It may take a while for this drama to play out.

PR/Media Week in Review 09-14-2008

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNews PR Week In Review Seotember 14, 2008JOHN McCAIN’s WEEK OF SHAMEFUL LIES

This was a watershed week in the race for the Presidency as John McCain and his gang of rough riding PR clowns hit us with a blizzard of lies that proved – if we needed a reminder – that the Bush Doctrine of nasty, base, deceitful pre-emptive attacks is very much alive in politics. Fred Thompson and Karl Rove were at their salivating, bloviating best (or worst) but the buck stops with McCain, who made such a rash, horrible decision with Palin that the Republican political mob can only go on the attack.

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