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6 mobile apps for business journalists

mobile app

These apps help business journalists stay in the know when away from the office. Photo by iStock

Access to immediate information is crucial for today’s business journalist wanting to get the job done right and on deadline. Smartphones with full web access make it easy to find almost anything you need on the go.  But those only visiting mobile websites are missing out on a far more efficient way to access the web: apps.

Smartphone apps provide a user-friendly, screen-adjusted, and rarely changing “home page” that gets rid of clutter and narrows the focus to exactly what you need.  Many of us visit Facebook and Angry Birds, but there are also useful apps for when you’re out on the business beat. We’ve compiled a list of the top apps, including their prices and major features, that are must for every business journalist.

1. SEC Filings Finder

This essential app grants you access to company information in the EDGAR database.  You’ll find 10ks, 8ks, 13Ds, proxy statements and more.  You can save recent searches for later review and, if you’re a little fuzzy on SEC paperwork, the app provides a page with descriptions about what is in each form.  Imagine you’re on your way to meet with public company’s CEO.  Wouldn’t it be helpful to review the most recent SEC data right before your interview? (Droid, 99 cents; iPhone, $1.99.)

2. S&P Ratings CreditMatters

This app provides original articles from S&P analysts regarding national and international ratings of companies and countries.  Journalists focused on macro issues will find this an easy solution for staying up to date on the worldwide financial system.  There’s no search for company ratings yet, but I suspect that will be an update in the near future.  For those in real estate, there’s a commercial mortgage backed security (iCMBS) directory, which gives users information about the financial instruments behind different commercial and residential properties.  This directory can also be viewed in Google maps, allowing for efficient navigation to the buildings you’re looking for. (Unavailable for Droid; iPhone, free.)

3.  powerOne Finance Calculator

Numbers are the backbone of any business article.  When you’re forced to go past basic arithmetic, it a good idea to have this app on hand.  It performs basic finance calculations, such as time value of money and interest. If you’re feeling brave, you can dive deeper with graphical representations of various functions. (Unavailable for Droid, iPhone, Pro Edition is $4.99 and the Lite Edition is free.)

4. LinkedIn

This app allows you to search for and view the entire profile of every LinkedIn member.  Use it to view a source’s credentials, past employers and friends/acquaintances. With this tool it should be much easier to connect the dots when fishing out a story and following the money.

On a related note, business journalists can sign up for a one-year premium-access pass to LinkedIn for free simply by participating in a 30 minute training session hosted by the company.  Added perks of being a premium member include advanced searching and the ability to email non-connected members, which is helpful when sourcing stories.  To find the next training session, search for “LinkedIn journalist training.” (Droid, free; iPhone, free)

 5. CNBC Real Time

Looking for the quickest way to check the stock market?  This app’s ticker is significantly faster than the stock app that comes with the iPhone.  The menu is customizable to show your favorite stocks or indexes, leaving you with no excuses when someone asks: “What did the market do today?”  If you’re looking for more information, the app provides news, videos, watchlists and more. (Droid, free; iPhone, free)

6. Quickoffice Pro

Smartphone users are all too aware of the lack of their phone’s functionality when opening Microsoft Office documents.  This app attempts to overcome those limitations by allowing users to open Word, Excel and even PowerPoint files while also having access to the advanced editing tools normally reserved for the desktop versions. (Droid, $14.99; iPhone, $14.99)

About the Author

Jeff Marshall is an Arizona native and an undergraduate journalism student with a focus on digital media and business at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Jeff worked in finance, insurance and real estate for 7 years before returning to school to complete his degree. Topics of particular interest to Jeff include economics, political philosophy and financial mathematics.

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