Global Financial Journalism    Week 2: Small-business profiles    Jeffrey TimmermansThursday, 31 January, 13
Small-business profile: proposals    Example 1:               prop-onlinepr-wang               Yage Era Corp. refers to it...
Small-business profile: proposals    Example 3:                 prop-music therapy-li                 Music therapy is ver...
The nut graf    ✤    Tells the reader why he or she should care about this story          ✤    Why it matters to them, or ...
Nut graf: example one    BALTIMORE -- It was another routine transaction in the deadly business of how criminals get their...
Nut graf: example two    FORT WORTH, Texas -- If it werent for the drab green and gray uniforms worn by the clerks, this o...
WSJ feature model    ✤    Lede: Summarizes the main point of the story, sometimes with a         narrative or anecdote    ...
Bloomberg’s four-paragraph lead    ✤    Theme: What & Why    ✤    Authority: Quote from someone that backs up the theme   ...
Four-paragraph lead: example    ✤    Quebec voters rejected secession by a razor-thin margin, averting the         collaps...
Small-business profile: example    Casey King can sit in his office on South MoPac Boulevard, push a button and, within sec...
Small-business profile: example two    TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - The 14 felines-in-residence at Tokyos Cat Cafe Calico excel ...
Small-business profiles: prep    ✤    Do your research! Do a search      ✤   Make an appointment to ensure         (Google...
Questions to ask small businesses    1. How long have you been in business?   11.Who are your main suppliers?    2. How ma...
Bloomberg’s key profile elements    ✤    Age                                                                   ✤   Friends...
General interview guidelines    ✤    Be empathetic. Show your interviewee that you care about what they         have to sa...
Other things to remember...    ✤    Get proper spelling of names     ✤   Capture details: visual,                         ...
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Class2

  1. 1. Global Financial Journalism Week 2: Small-business profiles Jeffrey TimmermansThursday, 31 January, 13
  2. 2. 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. 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, 31 January, 13
  3. 3. 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 may 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, 31 January, 13
  4. 4. The nut graf ✤ Tells the reader why he or she should care about this story ✤ Why it matters to them, or should matter ✤ The significance of the story ✤ In business journalism, often includes a number or other data point to illustrate the size – hence importance – of a business or industry or eventThursday, 31 January, 13
  5. 5. Nut graf: example one BALTIMORE -- It was another routine transaction in the deadly business of how criminals get their guns. In March 1998, a stranger paid 21-year-old Tia Branch $200, drove her to the Baltimore Gunsmith store near her housing project and showed her a $700 semiautomatic pistol he wanted. Outside the store, he gave her the money for the gun, and she went back in and bought it. As a convicted felon, he was barred by Federal law from buying a gun. The sales clerk did not question the young woman, although law-enforcement officials say the clerk should have known from the couples behavior that it was an illegal straw purchase. Baltimore Gunsmith has made so many similar sales, they say, that the store is responsible for selling 20 percent of the guns used in crimes that the Baltimore police have traced in the last nine years. Police officers, Federal agents and prosecutors have tried numerous times, using existing gun laws, to shut the place down since 1991. Despite these efforts, it still remains open. As Congress debates gun control, the gun industry and its supporters often say that the United States has enough gun laws already, that what is lacking is enforcement. But a review of cases like the Baltimore Gunsmith and of the agency charged with enforcing Federal gun laws, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, reveals a much more complicated situation. The bureau, an arm of the Treasury Department, was created with limited power, has existed under constant threat of attack by the National Rifle Association, has been kept short-staffed and has to enforce laws often written to make prosecutions difficult. An examination of the bureau also shows a major distinction in its approach to the job. Historically, it has arrested a sizable number of criminals who use guns in robberies or drug sales, particularly career criminals with three or more convictions. These are considered safe cases that do not arouse N.R.A. opposition. Until recently, the bureau has been less aggressive in what is now being ... Source: “Limits on Power and Zeal Hamper Firearms Agency,” New York Times, 22 July 1999Thursday, 31 January, 13
  6. 6. Nut graf: example two FORT WORTH, Texas -- If it werent for the drab green and gray uniforms worn by the clerks, this office would look much like many in Corporate America. A hundred women, some listening to Walkmans, clack away on computer keyboards, entering used-vehicle sales data for CCC Information Services Group Inc., a Chicago insurance-claims processing company. Beyond the uniforms, however, theres a less obvious difference: no telephones. The convicted felons at work here arent allowed to have them. The data-entry operation at this 90-acre prison enclave called Carswell is a controversial experiment by Federal Prison Industries, a self-supporting arm of the Justice Department. FPI, which employs about 20,000 prisoners, makes clothing, furniture and other goods for the federal government. But it believes its future lies in selling services -- and not just to the government. FPI is counting on the robust service economy to remedy its biggest headache: The nations prison population is growing faster than wardens can find work for it. If FPI cant meet its goal of employing at least 20% of the eligible federal inmates, there will be more idle prisoners and more potential for turmoil behind bars. To cope with the influx, FPI hopes to tap the commercial market for such services as coupon sorting, packaging and data processing. Its new strategy and the growth of FPIs traditional businesses infuriates an eclectic mix of politicians, unions and business leaders. They say FPI is stealing jobs from the private sector and is able to compete only because it pays much less than the minimum wage. Their anger is fueling a campaign to strip FPI of its most valuable asset -- its right of first refusal on federal contracts for hundreds of goods, ranging from swim trunks to -- ironically -- steel security doors. At the center of the storm is Steve Schwalb, 48 years old, FPIs chief operating officer. "What we have here is one damn complex political issue," says Mr. Schwalb, a 26-year veteran of prison management. "It shouldnt be personal," he adds. "If Ive done something wrong, shame on me." Source: “Mr. Schwalb is Putting His Inmates to Work for the Private Sector,” The Wall Street Journal, 22 July 1999Thursday, 31 January, 13
  7. 7. 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, 31 January, 13
  8. 8. Bloomberg’s four-paragraph lead ✤ Theme: What & Why ✤ Authority: Quote from someone that backs up the theme ✤ Details: Additional info & data that “are essential to telling the story” ✤ What’s at Stake: Why people should careThursday, 31 January, 13
  9. 9. Four-paragraph lead: example ✤ Quebec voters rejected secession by a razor-thin margin, averting the collapse of the country’s financial markets. (Theme) ✤ “The apocalyptic scenario associated with a ‘yes’ victory has been avoided,” said David Mather, who helps manage C$6.6 billion at Elliot & Page Ltd. (Authority) ✤ Canada’s second most-populous province voted 50.6% vs. 49.4% against seceding... (Details) ✤ The outcome averted a potential domino effect of other provinces seceding... (What’s at Stake) Source: The Bloomberg Way: A Guide for Reporters & Editors, 10th EditionThursday, 31 January, 13
  10. 10. Small-business profile: example Casey King can sit in his office on South MoPac Boulevard, push a button and, within seconds, establish a video communications connection with the part of his engineering team that works in India. The video is in high-definition, and the audio is crystal clear. The cost of the call, which is conducted over an Internet broadband connection, is next to nothing. The main challenge involved is the time difference. At 10 a.m. Austin time, it is 9:30 p.m. in Bangalore, but the Indian engineers are used to staying late and talking over technical issues with managers in Texas. "Seeing is believing," King said. "Thirty seconds after making a call to India, you see what the value proposition is." King is chief technical officer of LifeSize Communications Inc. , which is pushing the envelope for high-definition video communications equipment. The 5-year-old company has 40 patents pending and about 1,000 customers. It is part of a shift toward more advanced technology that has given a new lift to the conferencing market, which is about two decades old. Worldwide sales of conferencing equipment are expected to top the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2007, with a heady 35 percent growth rate. "The technology has improved so much," said analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group in San Jose, Calif. "With a high-definition screen and the right network connection, it feels like you are there, and you dont have the hassles of traveling, the jet lag problems, the wining and dining with the people you do business with. All that stuff goes away. Executives still have to travel, but not as much." "High-definition is a much better experience, and HD is sexy," said analyst Andrew Davis with Wainhouse Research in Brookline, Mass. "Once you have done an HD video conference, you dont want to go back." LifeSize, which introduced its first high-definition conferencing systems in 2005, had the early technical lead, but competitors are rushing to catch up. Source: “Austin’s LifeSize growing with conferencing market,” Austin American-Statesman, 31 Dec 2007Thursday, 31 January, 13
  11. 11. Small-business profile: example two TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - The 14 felines-in-residence at Tokyos Cat Cafe Calico excel at their job of making customers purr with delight. "This place isnt on my way from work, but even if Im pretty tired, Id still stop by," said 32-year-old system engineer and a Calico regular Kazunori Hamanaka, as he tried to take a photo of a white and brown Bengal cat curling up in a box. "Stray cats run away when I try to stroke them. Here, its great that I can do that," said Hamanaka, who is unable to keep pets at home. He takes about 200 photos on each visit for his blog. Calico is one of at least three cafes that have opened up in Tokyo this year where visitors can mingle with cats as they enjoy a cup of tea. Takafumi Fukui, the 34-year-old owner and a long-time cat lover, quit his job at a television game company and started the cafe in March. "In Tokyo, its not that easy to have cats," he said, explaining that tight housing regulations often forbid pets. Visitors to Calico pay 800 yen ($7) an hour or 2,000 yen for three hours in a big room where 14 well-brushed and shampooed cats hang out. After a thorough handwash, the visitor can play with the cats, read comics or just relax. The clean, odorless cafe -- Calico has six air fresheners and the litter trays are out of sight -- gets about 70 visitors a day during the week and 150 a day at weekends. "I want everyone to forget about their jobs and relax," Fukui said, adding that the majority of visitors to Calico are working women and children, and about 70 percent overall dont own cats due to allergies or housing regulations. None of Calicos cats are strays, but the cafe puts up posters for abandoned cats seeking homes. Pet dumping is a problem in Japan, where about 240,000 cats and 160,000 dogs without owners are gassed each year, government data showed. The Calico cats are fortunate to have their admirers. "It is really soothing," Hamanaka said about his frequent visits. "Even three hours is not enough." Source: “Cat cafe soothes Tokyos busy feline lovers,” Reuters, 4 Dec 2007Thursday, 31 January, 13
  12. 12. Small-business profiles: prep ✤ Do your research! Do a search ✤ Make an appointment to ensure (Google and Factiva) in you have your subject’s advance on the owner/ undivided attention. business/industry you plan on writing about. ✤ Identify yourself as a journalist and tell the subject where the ✤ Draft some questions in story will be published. advance, but don’t feel you have to stick with them. Let the ✤ Interview your subject where interview flow naturally. they work and observe how they interact with others.Thursday, 31 January, 13
  13. 13. Questions to ask small businesses 1. How long have you been in business? 11.Who are your main suppliers? 2. How many generations of your family 12.Who are your main competitors? have been involved? 13.Is there an industry group or union you 3. Will your children take over? belong to? 4. How many employees? 14.What did you do before you started this 5. Is it a good living? business? 6. How has your business changed over 15.If you could do it all over again, what the past 10 years? would you change? 7. When do you think you’ll retire? 16.What’s the strangest/funniest thing that’s happened in your business? 8. How have your customers changed? 17.How do you promote your business? 9. Who are your best customers? Worst? 18.How has government regulation (e.g. 10.Have you changed how you manage min. wage law) affected your business? the business?Thursday, 31 January, 13
  14. 14. Bloomberg’s key profile elements ✤ Age ✤ Friends (and enemies) ✤ Education ✤ Quote from friend ✤ Work history ✤ Quote from adversary ✤ Biggest accomplishment ✤ Rank among competitors ✤ Hobbies ✤ Defining event or moment ✤ Reasons for success or failure ✤ Idiosyncrasies Source: The Bloomberg Way: A Guide for Reporters & Editors, 10th EditionThursday, 31 January, 13
  15. 15. General interview guidelines ✤ Be empathetic. Show your interviewee that you care about what they have to say. ✤ Ask open-ended questions: especially the “how” and “why” questions. ✤ Never be afraid of asking questions you think are naïve or dumb. ✤ Always take good notes, even if you record all your interviews.Thursday, 31 January, 13
  16. 16. Other things to remember... ✤ Get proper spelling of names ✤ Capture details: visual, auditory, olfactory! ✤ Get everyone’s age ✤ Look for colorful anecdotes/ ✤ Interview some customers (and quotes that illustrate the theme, maybe competitors as well) the small business & its owner (for the gut of the story) ✤ Mention you might like a follow-up interview ✤ Think about why this business matters, what makes it ✤ Look for a theme/narrative you different, unique (for the nut) can build your story aroundThursday, 31 January, 13

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