Allan Sloan of Fortune Magazine Touches on “The Golden Age” of Journalism

April 10, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Jonathan Richter
jkrichter@smu.edu

Allan Sloan, senior Editor-At-Large for Fortune Magazine, spoke to journalists and business executives from around the country on Friday, using his personal experience as a journalist to reveal that a new “golden age” is coming to journalism.

Sloan addressed a lively audience in Crum Auditorium at the 48th Annual conference for the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, SABEW, and kept the crowd entertained with accounts of his career in journalism.

The breakout session focused on the evolution of journalism and its future given the decline in the profitability of newspapers and magazines. It asked the question of whether or not the “craft we love will still love us back”.

“Somebody is going to figure out how to get people to pay for what we do,” said Sloan. “My real hope is that my encouragement I’m offering here is going to encourage someone to do this and pay me a fee.”

He pointed out we have to face the fact that the old business model of making profit from advertising has failed because of media fragmentation.

“Do not morn the thing that is gone,” Sloan said in regards to the decline of the old business profit model of newspapers and magazines. “Every year we can have a drink in memory of the ad model.”

Sloan stumbled upon his career as a business journalist in 1969 after failing as a sports writer in Charlotte, NC.

“I managed to start writing business news when nobody cared about it and managed to have my career go through the whole ark of journalism changing from a lower middle class lifestyle to a brief golden age,” Sloan commented.

This golden age occurred when newspapers were enjoying profits from increases in advertising and classifieds, and this money trickled down to writers. However, as Sloan reveled, this age has come to a halt because there has not been a way to profit without using advertisers.

The audience responded favorably to Sloan’s speech.

“I liked his sense of humor and I liked that he had an insider’s perspective on the industry,” said Sam Taute, writer for Smartbrief.

Journalism students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were also gathered in the audience to hear Sloan’s breakout session.

“I thought the speech was really entertaining and useful, especially his advice to young journalists. It was nice to hear an expert say that the industry is not doing well, but to keep passionate and committed to about what you are doing,” said Tori Stilwell, a junior journalism student at UNC.

Sloan concluded the session by emphasizing not to whine for yesterday because yesterday is not coming back, and gave some advice to young journalists looking for jobs in the industry.

“Things aren’t any different now days than when I was doing this and the opportunity is still out there,” Sloan said.

The SABEW Conference was held at Southern Methodist University’s Collins Executive Education Center and concluded Saturday, April 9th.

Words of Wisdom from Kip Tindell and Walter Robb, CEOs of The Container Store and Whole Foods

April 10, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Brad Namdar
bnamdarkha@smu.edu

Saturday, the SABEW (Society of American Business Editors and Writers) 48th Annual Conference, was held at SMU.

Two of the many distinguished speakers were, The Container Store CEO, Kip Tindell and Whole Foods co-CEO, Walter Robb. During their lecture they explained how ‘conscious capitalism’ is more than just a phrase. It’s how they do business, and how they treat people/employees altogether, to create a strong and successful company.

Robb began the lecture stating,” We all understand how powerful business is. It’s the most powerful agent of change in the world. Creative capitalism isn’t just about making money, but it exists for a deeper purpose, for a mission.”

Tindell said, “Our first priority is to our employees. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the costumers. Rather than, focusing on just the shareholders.”

As the two speakers spoke of the importance of unity, Robb made an analogy for the audience, to get a better understanding of the way he demonstrates to his employees, that they are “in it together.”

Robb, said, “I fly Southwest, in coach, like everyone else. You have to let your employees, know that we are all in it together, and all working for the same goal.”

Tindell and Robb also went on to speak about how they handled their company during the recession, and the “true” meaning, of a company that looks out for its employees.

Tindell said, “In 2008, during the recession, when many company’s were making cuts we didn’t lay-off a single employee, instead we cut our expenses and made deals with manufactures.”

Robb said, “In 2008 we were at a 1,500 basis point swing. A lot of company’s showed their true colors and the decisions a company makes at a time like that, shows you their true values. Many took ‘wacks’ at their employees. We only eliminated 100 people at the office level and froze our wages for two years.”

The lecture went on with the speakers explaining how in today’s society we have to change the way we do business, and that the world is changing all-together. The day-to-day business that has no regard for employees/costumers, and only care for their shareholders income, is over.

At the end of the lecture, Robb finished by saying, “The young men and women that are going into business are the future, and were asking businesses everywhere to step it up at a larger potential.”

After the lecture we were fortunate enough to get an exclusive ‘question and answer’ session with Tindell and Robb. Here is what they had to say:

1.) What 3 words, best describe how you conduct business with-in your company?

Tindell- Compassion, understanding, and consistent.

Robb- Together, common goal, and different.

2.) What advice do you have for young social entrepreneurs’ who struggle to inspire their employees?

Tindell – Don’t forget why you created the company and work hard. Your employees reflect your business; make sure they are happy to be there.

Robb- Never forget what you want your company to be, and remember that not everyone is a good fit for every company. It’s not my job to inspire people. They have to want to be there and not take away space from someone else.

3.) What are some of the biggest adversity/challenges your company has faced?

Tindell- In 2008, the recession, we had to cut our spending, and make arrangements with manufactures so we could keep our employees. Our manufactures had to know at what prices we were selling their products, and what we needed from them.

Robb- The recession was a tough time for everyone. Though, with different shareholders, and motivations making sure you are all together in the same goal is a tough one. We cut our salaries for two years, and had to lay-off only 100 people.

4.) What do you think is the best way for young people to get in the job considering the market today?

Tindell- Work hard, network, and make sure you do something you like.

Robb- It’s the young people today that have new ideas and want opportunity. Work hard and have confidence.

SABEW’s 2011 Conference Comes to an End

April 10, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

Check the Daily Mustang’s business portal for stories, live blogs, videos, and a twitter feed (#SABEW) covering many of the weekend’s events.

The Daily Mustang business news portal will be continuously updated with SABEW coverage all weekend long. Click the above image to visit the portal.

By Kimmy Ryan
kryan@smu.edu

The Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) Conference was held on SMU’s campus Thursday through Saturday. The annual SABEW Conference is the largest gathering of business journalists and featured many prominent journalism speakers.

Some of the weekend highlights included Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Texas; Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy; Mary Schapiro, SEC chairman; and Elizabeth Warren, assistant to President Obama. The CEOs of Southwest Airlines and American Airlines spoke about the future of the airline industry on Friday. And, the CEOs of the Container Store and Whole Foods spoke about “Conscious Capitalism” on Saturday.

SMU’s own Tony Pederson, Mark Vamos and Jake Batsell also spoke in breakout sessions.

It was an incredible weekend at SMU. With a plethora of great speakers, the weekend was full of interesting and, many times, helpful content. The SABEW Conference included everything from tips on how to do investigative journalism to discussions on airline safety and drug cartels in Mexico.

Journalists from across the country came pouring into SMU’s Collins Center. Many of the attendees were professionals in the journalism world, but many journalism students attended as well.

One journalist was overheard saying, “The conference is running so smoothly. It really makes you want to stay all day and enjoy the speakers.”

SMU journalism students helped work the check-in table and helped with set-up and take-down, but they also received media passes to the conference. Check out the business portal for all their SABEW coverage, including blogging, tweeting, video stories, live-blogging, and hard news stories.

BLOG RECAP: The Economic Impacts of Cartel Violence

April 9, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Ashley Withers
awithers@smu.edu

A group of SABEW attendees participated Saturday morning in a Q&A session about the difficulties of Mexican journalism and the coverage of the country’s business economy.

Alfredo Corchado, The Dallas Morning News Mexico City bureau chief, fielded a wide array of questions about his coverage in Mexico as he shared his personal experiences with cartel violence. SMU Journalism Chair Tony Pederson moderated the session.

Pederson began the Q&A by asking Corchado to tell the audience about his latest series about the Zetas, one of Mexico’s largest drug cartels.

The relevance of the breakout session was quickly realized as Corchado explained that Dallas has become a major transnational drug trafficking hub for the Mexican cartel.

He helped to unpack the significant impact that the illegal trade has had on legitimate business in Mexico. Corchado said that as many as 10,000 businesses have moved over the border from Juarez to El Paso because of the threat of violence and their inability to compete.

“About half of all the businesses in Mexico are illegal businesses,” Corchado said.

Despite the obvious differences, Corchado compared covering drug trafficking and other illegal businesses in Mexico to covering Starbucks. Both are profit-turners searching for market takeover.

Pederson also brought up the issue of the seemingly “Mexican appetite” for the drug trade and corruption.

“It’s really a war within the government,” Corchado said. “New people come in and say they will remove monopolies, but then they realize that monopolies own Mexico.”

Corchado commented that it was tragic that news media is only focused on drug violence. He feels like with such a narrow scope of coverage he is not really telling readers what is going on in Mexico.

He also touched on the violence against journalists in Mexico. In the past two-and-a-half years 30 journalists have been killed.

Corchado even shared his personal experience with the violence, saying that he has had to be removed from Mexico four times after serious threats to his life.

However, despite the risks, Corchado thinks American coverage of Mexico is vital.

“I still believe there is no other country that has a daily impact on the United States like Mexico,” Corchado said.

VIDEO: “The Student Loan Meltdown:” What You May Not Know

April 9, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

By Carolina Brioso
cbrioso@smu.edu

Video by Sydney Giesey
sschmidt@smu.edu

VIDEO: Student Loan Meltdown from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and University held its program about “The Student Loan Meltdown” at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The SABEW annual conference presented the program that shed light on startling facts about the 30 million Americans who are currently affected by student loan debts.

The speakers of the conference were the CEO of the APSCU, Harris Miller, Paul Combe, Marty Steffens, and Mark Kantrowitz. The speakers all stressed the importance of obtaining a college education, as it is the finest route to employment.

Paul Combe, from the American Student Assistance, said his organization works and helps loan borrowers after graduation.

“As a society, we benefit from education. It’s sad to see how the middle class will start off in debt,” said Combe.
Mark Kantrowitz brought up for discussion a finding that was not only a surprise to many but initiated numerous questions from actively engaged audience members.

“We have realized that student loans have exceeded credit card debt. There is currently $900 billion in student loan debt,” said Kantrowitz.

The panelists said that a serious problem is that students are signing off on loans in which they will not be able to pay back.

“The most important thing to do is to get the right amount of loan… If you are willing to work with the government, the government will work with you when paying back those loans. The system is designed to help the payer,” said Miller.

However, is there a solution to a problem that affects so many? With high attendance costs from private universities, some students are leaving college with debts in the hundred thousands of dollars. According to the APSCU, the average student loan debt is $24,000.

The panelists also mentioned that the students who usually end up in default are those who try to escape payments.

“Australia, for example, instead of going through a loan system and then if you fail to pay the loans back and the lender tries to chase you down and extract if from you somehow, they go through the tax-system. Basically, the money you borrowed to go to school will come out from your payroll if you don’t pay, and I think that is something the United States should try to do,” said Miller.

The speakers also brought to light a disturbing trend on Parent Plus Loans. Because Parent Plus Loans are not need-based, anyone can get one.

“Even Bill Gates could get a parent plus loan if he wanted to,” said Combe.

The speakers mentioned that the Octo-mom, Nadya Suleman, was living off parent plus loans to provide for her children.

While the APSCU stresses the significance of an education, some individuals simply cannot afford it. It is without a doubt that college graduates hope for nothing more than to depart college with pride, respect, and an overwhelming feeling of achievement. However, if one decides to go through with the loan process to obtain a degree, one will unfortunately depart college with inevitable fear and a burden of debts.

BLOG RECAP: Business Investigation Tips from AP Reporter Matt Apuzzo

April 9, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Briana Darensburg
bdarensbur@smu.edu

Matt Apuzzo, AP reporter and a member of the Washington investigative team, spoke about the process and helpful hints to report an investigative piece at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers Annual Conference. Apuzzo used personal anecdotes and analogies to explain how a reporter should approach, research and execute an investigative piece.

Apuzzo started the lecture with his explanation as to why he is passionate about investigative journalism. He believes that business investigations can show you how to do “distinctive journalism,” which is what he thinks our business [journalism] is counting on to survive.

Apuzzo separated the investigative reporting process into three sections.

Approach

Apuzzo said that most of the time, people don’t even know where to begin on reporting an investigative story.

“I think we need to stop thinking in terms of targets and start thinking in terms of questions; leave the targets up to the FBI. We’re in the answering questions business,” said Apuzzo.

He explained that when you focus on a question, it will narrow your subject and provide a starting place for your research.
But he also warned reporters of the nay-sayers in the news rooms. You know, the people that hear an idea and immediately say, “That’s impossible,” or “we’ve already written that.” Apuzzo claims that these are just defense mechanisms and to let them go into one ear and out of the other.

“Is it hard? Yes! Is it impossible? No,” said Apuzzo.

Research

Apuzzo emphasized the importance of knowing how the business operates before you start investigating. “If you know how the machinery works, you’re going to get the story,” said Apuzzo.

Knowing how the business runs will help you find out the people you need to interview; although Apuzzo prefers a more relaxed approach to finding out information.

He says to build a network of people who know about the business, but it should be casual.

“If I want to talk to you, I’m going to your house or to a bar, not at work. It’s against our instincts to bother someone at home, but it’s against their instincts to throw you off their porch,” said Apuzzo.

Execution

This is the time in the process where you have a story and know information, but you need the documentation or quote to prove it.
Apuzzo explained how there is power in a document or an email because it is almost always refutable. “Just assume everything you want is written down; even the mob writes stuff down.”

He admitted that he loves to get people’s calendars of everything they’ve done because it is a paper trail for what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and who they’re doing it with.

And when it’s time to get the interview (or have that conversation) with that ex-employee or the ex-spouse, try and have it at a bar. Apuzzo explained that people don’t want to be interrogated, but they will be willing to give you information if you just simply have a conversation with them.

BLOG RECAP: Learn How To Launch You.com, Your Personal Website

April 9, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

 By Elizabeth Erickson
eerickson@smu.edu
 
A select number of SABEW attendees spent four hours on Friday afternoon learning how to implement the principles of having an online presence as journalists.

Leading the session was Jeremy Caplan, the director of education for the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He was a frequent writer for Time Magazine, covering stories about culture and business that were underrepresented. Caplan has multiple blogs in addition to his personal portfolio site.

“You may have one primary presence, but you might also find that you will have multiple presences online for multiple purposes,” said Caplan.

Though WordPress was the tool of choice for the majority of the session, a large portion of the lecture was devoted to highlighting nine ways to build your site.

“Wordpress is the most powerful and most robust way to build your site. But it is not the only option.  There are other options and they are not mutually exclusive,” said Caplan.

Caplan detailed nine ways to build your site:

1. Make a landing page
Sites such as Flavors.me and About.me have the ability to connect other media accounts that you already have to what is essentially a landing page. You have limited design and page options. It’s a great option for people to be able to see what you have produced.

“The difference between Flavors.me and About.me is a bit of a Coke and Pepsi thing. It’s just a presentation thing,” said Caplan.
 
2. Post a basic blog
Blogger is another option. It is one of many, but one of the most popular. Subject to much less downtime than some of the other, newer networks. Rapidly advancing with some of the new announcements they’ve just made.
 
3. Use a microblog service
The idea is to make blogging even simpler. Both Posterous and Tumblr are examples of microblog services. Posterous, is great in that you can email to update the site and other linked accounts. It has an auto post feature – it can auto syndicate your posts to your other places online. Tumblr is similar to Posterous in terms of ease of use and the fact that it is a microblog.
 
4. Learn a free web tool
Caplan is not a big fan of free web tools such as Weebly, Yola and Wix. He states that the design often leaves something to be desired and found that they are not as robust in terms of what you can do.
 
5. Go with WordPress
Caplan feels that WordPress is kind of in the “sweet spot” in the sense that you can access the stuff online. You can take advantage of the free tools online: templates, widgets and plug-ins and it is a very robust, well developed community.
 
6. Use free software
Software such as Apple’s iWeb are pretty easy to use. You can design sites in the traditional way of employing software, but there is no web access for instant updates.
 
7. Buy pro software
Dreamweaver is that old fashioned tool that used to be taught. Caplan feels that it is more complicated than necessary and expensive if you don’t have it. Tremendously powerful, but a little bit complex when you first learn it.
 
8. Use a pro-hosting service
Programs and services such as Squarespace have a professional service take care of everything, but often you are paying more per month and there are limited template options.
 
9. Find and pay a contractor
Caplan recommends sites such as Sortfolio.com and 99designs.com to solicit bids from contractors on site designers.
 
For access to notes from Caplan’s discussion and some step-by-step instructions, visit http://bit.ly/launchyoursite.
 

McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy, Discusses Domestic Oil Production at SABEW

April 8, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Stephanie Collins
spcollins@smu.edu

Contrary to popular belief, numerous oil reserves exist in the United States and can support much of the country’s natural gas needs.
 
This was the message shared by Aubrey McClendon, Chief Executive Officer of Chesapeake Energy, at the Society of American Business Editors and Writers Conference Friday afternoon.
 
Chesapeake Energy is responsible for 95 percent of all oil wells drilled in the United States. These oil reserves, which exist beneath American soil, are twice as large as those in Saudi Arabia, according to McClendon.
 
With rapidly rising gas prices and ongoing foreign policy issues concerning importing oil from foreign countries, McClendon said the company will take advantage of American oil reserves and hopes to increase oil production within the country by 50 percent in the next five years.
 
McClendon said that increasing oil production in the United States could go a long way toward reducing U.S. intervention in the internal politics of other countries for the sake of oil.

“Today, that’s how we are making our foreign policy decisions,” said McClendon.
 
McClendon said that in time the company will find oil in lots of places that it is not found today.

“The American public needs to understand how vast the resources and possibilities are,” said McClendon.
 
Domestic oil production would also significantly lower gas prices. According to McClendon, Americans paying $4 per gallon of gas is not sustainable.

“The good thing about something being unsustainable is that it is unsustainable,” said McClendon, who added that soaring gas prices will lead to a natural shift to domestic oil production.

According to McClendon, Chesapeake Energy has directly and indirectly supported 4 million jobs in the United States within the last year alone. The company also accounted for $600 billion of economic activity during that year.
 
Natural gas is used to heat over 70 percent of American homes, and is responsible for 30 percent of electricity, according to McClendon, making it a very valuable commodity in American society.
 
Despite all of the benefits of domestic oil production, McClendon mentioned the dangers that go along with the industry. McClendon said that Americans should focus on the advantages of the industry rather than allowing the drawbacks to overshadow the growth the company has brought and could bring in the future to the economy.
 
“I can’t change the fact that this is an industry that uses a lot of big equipment that has humans right next to it,” said McClendon.
 
Of the lecture, Steve Radwell of Fidelity Investments in New York City said, “It was a frank discussion of the risks and benefits of oil drilling.”
 
McClendon also mentioned that there would be more news from the company concerning a “big move forward” in the industry Monday.

CEOs of Southwest Airlines and American Airlines “Take Off” at SABEW

April 8, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

By Maggie Ashworth
mashworth@smu.edu
 
Friday, April 8, 2011, business professionals and journalists gathered in Southern Methodist University’s Crum Auditorium for “Up in the Air: The Future of U.S. Airlines.”

The discussion featured the Chief Executive Officers for two of the country’s leading airlines, Southwest and American Airlines. The discussion was part of a series of lectures and workshops at the 48th Annual conference for the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW).

The session was lead by Terry Maxon, airline writer for Dallas Morning News, who introduced Southwest CEO Gary Kelly, and American Airlines CEO, Gerard Arpey. Maxon helped lead the conversation and prompted questions for both speakers to answer.

One would have expected some serious tension between these competitors, but the discussion could not have gone more smoothly. With a room full of business writers, there were plenty of questions to keep the speakers talking about a variety of subjects.

Kelly addressed the Southwest Airlines incident in Arizona last week, when the airline was forced to land a Boeing 737 in Yuma, Arizona, after discovering a hole in the roof of the aircraft.

“It was not expected, it is not what we want, certainly for our customers. It is a very, very rare occurrence. We have over a million takeoffs and landings a year, every single year, and the Boeing company has said that this was an unexpected event. The NTSB, of course, is leading the investigation into the incident and has already reported that Southwest Airlines was in full compliance with our maintenance program, that there were no missing maintenance steps,” Kelly said.

In response to the Boeing incident, Arpey still has faith in Boeing for American Airlines. Arpey stated that within the next year he thinks that American will actually host more Boeing 737 planes than MD-80s.

“The MD-80 has been a great airplane for American, but it does burn a lot more fuel than a 737, so it’s a good economic decision for us. And I think you can expect us to continue down that path,” Arpey said.

Other topics discussed during the lecture included the American Airlines decision to not file for bankruptcy, the problems faced in the transportation industry, as well as Southwest Airlines and American Airlines opposing views on charging customers for baggage, change in travel plans, and cocktails.

Today’s conversation leader, Terry Maxon, who regularly writes about the travel industry for The Dallas Morning News, felt that overall the discussion with Arpey and Kelly went very well. Maxon’s only complaint was that there was not enough time to have all the questions answered. Maxon feels that with so many issues in the airline industry, including pricing, customer service, fuel, and the impact of natural disasters, there could have never been enough time to discuss all aspects of the business. However, Maxon was pleased with the questions that were asked, and the topics that were discussed.

“There were a lot of questions asked, the audience got to ask a lot of insightful questions. You always worry that there’s going to be dumb questions asked, and there wasn’t a single question where you slapped yourself on the forehead and said that that shouldn’t even be brought up,” Maxon said.

The SABEW Conference will continue throughout tomorrow at Southern Methodist University, featuring speakers such as Container Store CEO Kip Tendell, Sean Carlson from Google, and James M. Monroney III, publisher and CEO of The Dallas Morning News.

VIDEO: Richard Fisher on America’s Current State, See How the SABEW Audience Responds

April 8, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Kassandra Schmitt
Kschmitt@smu.edu

Richard Fisher, President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, touches on “America’s Decline.” See video below for clippings from his speech and reactions from the audience.

Richard Fisher: SABEW 2011 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Next Page »