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  1. 1. Global Financial Journalism Week 1: Course overview Jeffrey TimmermansThursday, 24 January, 13
  2. 2. Key themes ✤ In today’s global financial system, everything is interrelated ✤ Business journalism isn’t just about numbers & money – it’s about people ✤ But following the money will usually lead you to the news ✤ Business journalism is important, not least because business & financial events affect all of usThursday, 24 January, 13
  3. 3. What is business news? ✤ Corporate events ✤ Announcements of economic data ✤ Government policy changes ✤ Profiles of/interviews with government officials, company executives ✤ Financial market activity ✤ How all of the above affect peopleThursday, 24 January, 13
  4. 4. Why it matters ✤ Good financial journalism levels the playing field ✤ Helps ensure that ordinary people aren’t at an information disadvantage ✤ Helps keep companies, governments and big investors honest ✤ Explains how financial & business events affect ordinary people’s livesThursday, 24 January, 13
  5. 5. March 24, 2011 G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether By DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010. The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion. That may be hard to fathom for the millions of American business owners and households now preparing their own returns, but low taxes are nothing new for G.E. The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies. Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm. Indeed, the company’s slogan “Imagination at Work” fits this department well. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.Thursday, 24 January, 13
  6. 6. May 6, 2013 By Patricia Callahan, Sam Roe and Michael HawthorneThursday, 24 January, 13
  7. 7. October 25, 2012 Billions in Hidden Riches for Family of Chinese Leader By DAVID BARBOZA BEIJING — The mother of China’s prime minister was a schoolteacher in northern China. His father was ordered to tend pigs in one of Mao’s political campaigns. And during childhood, “my family was extremely poor,” the prime minister, Wen Jiabao, said in a speech last year. But now 90, the prime minister’s mother, Yang Zhiyun, not only left poverty behind, she became outright rich, at least on paper, according to corporate and regulatory records. Just one investment in her name, in a large Chinese financial services company, had a value of $120 million five years ago, the records show. The details of how Ms. Yang, a widow, accumulated such wealth are not known, or even if she was aware of the holdings in her name. But it happened after her son was elevated to China’s ruling elite, first in 1998 as vice prime minister and then five years later as prime minister. Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.Thursday, 24 January, 13
  8. 8. Learning outcomes ✤ Understand the basic structure ✤ Explain the basic functions of of a business news story financial markets ✤ Identify financial events worthy ✤ Analyze corporate disclosure of news coverage documents and identify newsworthy elements ✤ Explain how companies function and how they compete ✤ Write a summary of daily activity in a financial market ✤ Explain the significance of events such as earnings ✤ Write analytical news stories on corporate eventsThursday, 24 January, 13
  9. 9. What you will be doing ✤ Covering a major Hong Kong or Chinese company ✤ Covering the Hong Kong stock market ✤ Preparing an analytical feature story about a business or financial topic or trendThursday, 24 January, 13
  10. 10. Writing assignments ✤ Small-business profile (one from each reporter) ✤ Spot news coverage on a Hong Kong-listed company (at least two stories) ✤ Daily (closing) comment on the Hong Kong stock market (one) ✤ Proposal for an analytical feature (one)Thursday, 24 January, 13
  11. 11. Reading assignments ✤ Daily reading ✤ Reuters Top News RSS feed, RTHK & SCMP RSS feeds ✤ Additional reading on course blog: ✤ Password for reading assignments: 7008Thursday, 24 January, 13
  12. 12. Assessment Tasks 10% Spot Stories Feature Stories 50% Class Participation 40% percentage of final gradeThursday, 24 January, 13
  13. 13. Plagiarism ✤ If you are caught passing off the work of others as your own, you will fail this course. ✤ If you are caught fabricating quotes or facts, you will fail this course. ✤ If you use information, quotes or facts from other people’s writing, you must clearly cite that person or publication.Thursday, 24 January, 13
  14. 14. Schedule Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Office Hours 9am-12pm EH 212 Office Hours Lecture 2-5pm Tutorial EH 212 2:30pm- 4:30- 4:25pm 5:20pm CYCP1 DM LabThursday, 24 January, 13
  15. 15. Key deadlines ✤ Jan. 31: Review materials on blog; start daily reading assignments ✤ Feb. 7: Spot story assignments begin (see Beat List) ✤ Feb. 21: Proposal for small-business profile due ✤ Feb. 29: Stock market assignments begin (see Beat List) ✤ Mar. 28: Small-business profile due ✤ Apr. 18: Proposal for analytic story due ✤ May 2: Rewrites dueThursday, 24 January, 13
  16. 16. Copy flow ✤ For every spot story, you must post a budget line on the course blog once you know the topic , including the story slug as the subject, when you can file, how long the story will be, and whether there will be any “art” (photos, video, audio, charts, etc.) ✤ For every feature story, you must post a proposal on the course blog. I will comment on your proposal, and either approve it or ask for more info ✤ Completed stories should also be posted on the blogThursday, 24 January, 13
  17. 17. Budget line Format: <SLUG> <BYLINE> <DATELINE>--<LEDE> <ESTIMATED LENGTH>. <ART/NO ART>. <FILING TIME> Example: sked-HKstocks-jeff by Jeffrey Timmermans HONG KONG--Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index declined 1.3% Tuesday, dragged down by financial shares, amid renewed investor unease about a possible sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Estimated length 300 words. No art. Delivery by Dec 11, 9pm Post on blog in “Budget Line” categoryThursday, 24 January, 13
  18. 18. Proposal Format: <SLUG> <BRIEF SUMMARY OF STORY, INCLUDING THE SUBJECT, WHAT THE SUBJECT DID, AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT. ALSO INCLUDE WHO YOU WILL INTERVIEW> <ESTIMATED LENGTH>. <ART/NO ART>. <FILING TIME> A good proposal is a combination of a lede and a nut graf, identifies the main interview subjects, and is no more than five paragraphs. Post on blog in “Proposal” categoryThursday, 24 January, 13
  19. 19. Slug Format: <ITEM TYPE>-<STORY TITLE>-<REPORTER NAME> Examples: prop-HKU ranking-jeff sked-HKstocks-jeff (for a story proposal) (for a budget line for a file-HKU ranking-jeff stock comment) (for a completed story)Thursday, 24 January, 13
  20. 20. Small-business profile: ideas ✤ Specialty shops (fashion, housewares, handicrafts, frame-makers, wine shop, etc.) ✤ Start-up companies offering interesting or unique services (scan local Web sites and newspapers for ads) ✤ Small businesses you frequent (not the chain stores like Starbucks, but a locally owned place) ✤ Market stalls ✤ NO UPSTAIRS BOOKSHOPS!Thursday, 24 January, 13
  21. 21. Small-business profile: proposals Example 1: prop-onlinepr-wang Yage Era Corp. refers to itself as an internet reputation management company or on-line public relations firm. What they do is delete negative posts or links for their clients. It’s becoming a bigger business since China began pushing harder on internet censorship. If you search for “professional post-deleting company”, about 8 million pages are found. This story will focus on how big the market can be, what legal problems they will face and how they survive in competition as well as regulations. I will talk to the owners of Yage Era, some customers, and some traditional PR agencies. Story will be 800 to 1,000 words. No art. Delivery by Feb. 27, 12pm Example 2: prop-cat-stray The Cat Cafe in TST is a unique Hong Kong establishment where customers can relax with a drink or a meal alongside one of the dozen or so resident cats. Two months ago, the store lost its restaurant license. To continue operation, they’ve turned their cafe into a cooking school where customers cook their own food, making the place even quirkier. I will interview the owner, find out why they lost their license (health permits?) and whether they expect to get it back, and cross-check the license story with the relevant government authorities. About 800 words, plus cute pictures of cats. Delivery Feb. 22, 2pmThursday, 24 January, 13
  22. 22. Small-business profile: proposals Example 3: prop-music therapy-li Music therapy is very popular in many western countries, while it has a relatively short history in Hong Kong. So far, there have been only 15 registered music therapists in Hong Kong, and very limited institutes which offer music therapy to the public. Pang’s Music Therapy Center is one of the biggest institutes of this field in Hong Kong. The center was established in 1990 by Pang Ga Wah, the first registered music therapist working in Hong Kong. It offers treatments both to people with special needs and also to normal ones. The story will focus on the business side of the therapy center, finding out how many people go there every year and how much the service charges. Then, it may move to a broader scene to discuss the demand-supply relationship of such therapy in Hong Kong and possible market trends. The main theme might be that there has still been much market space in the music therapy area, which could be a promising industry. Besides the center itself, I will interview a few members of Hong Kong Music Therapy Association as well. Estimate length at 800 words, no art Delivery by Feb. 22, 12:00pm Post on blog in “Proposal” categoryThursday, 24 January, 13
  23. 23. Spot/market comment model ✤ Change: What happened? What changed? ✤ Cause: Why? ✤ Expectations: What was expected to happen? ✤ Context: Is this the first? Only? Biggest? Consistent with others? ✤ Comment: What are people saying about it? Get quotes. ✤ Future: What is likely to happen next?Thursday, 24 January, 13
  24. 24. WSJ feature model ✤ Lede: Summarizes the main point of the story, sometimes with a narrative or anecdote ✤ Nut: The “so what”; why we should care about the story ✤ Gut: History (how did we get to this point), Scope (how common is this topic/trend/event), Relevance (link to other topics/trends/ events), Impact (who gains and who loses) ✤ Kicker: Ties up the story neatly by reinforcing the lede and leaves the reader something else to think about, often with a quoteThursday, 24 January, 13
  25. 25. In Texas, Theres No Business Like Going Out of Business --- Owner Alters Rug Shops Controversial Name But the Haggling Goes On and On By Barry Newman DALLAS -- When Cyrus Hassankola moved to Dallas a couple of years ago, after successfully going out of business in several locales, he decided to settle down and go out of business permanently. Lede "The response was good from day one," the carpet salesman says. Customers rooting through the stacks of oriental rugs in the store he opened on a busy road in North Dallas would sometimes say how sorry they were that he was going out of business. "Were not," Mr. Hassankola told them. "Its just the name of the store." A business literally called "Going Out of Business" didnt sit well in some quarters, one of them the Texas Attorney Generals office. So Mr. Hassankola -- for a limited time only -- has stopped going out of business. Now hes running regular "total liquidations" that "beat every going-out-of-business price." In his vocation, this is established practice. But the arrival of hard times has thrown the survival of the going-out-of-business model into doubt. Everybody else is slashing prices as if theres no tomorrow. Old-line going-out-of-business businesses are lost in the crowd. And their best customer -- the American trained to pay the advertised price -- has taken to Nut haggling. Americas Research Group, a South Carolina pollster, says 72% of 1,000 consumers interviewed in February have haggled in the past year (31% is the historical average) and theyve gotten deals 80% of the time; last year, only half the retailers they took a shot at caved in. Mr. Hassankola spots the trend whenever he rolls out a rug.Thursday, 24 January, 13
  26. 26. and the kicker... But Mr. Hassankola has more to come. He has heard that his building soon may finally be torn down. Hes already scouting for new locations -- and making plans for a grand-opening sale. The end.Thursday, 24 January, 13
  27. 27. Assignment for Jan. 31 ✤ Read the Filing Guidelines and Reporting Guidelines on the blog ✤ Read the Syllabus ✤ Read the assigned reading on the course blog ✤ Start reading local business news, and stock market comments ✤ Start thinking about possible small businesses to profileThursday, 24 January, 13