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NYT reporter shares sourcing tips for stories on tax law impact

The New York Times has been tackling the federal tax limbo with a series of stories looking at reactions and possible changes. Nathaniel Popper and Nelson D. Schwartz led the coverage with a story about investors shifting investments in anticipation of higher tax rates. They write the moves are “sending ripples across Wall Street and broad areas of the economy.”

Nathaniel says reporters and editors have worked together to think about what may be coming.

“It offers a chance to get beyond the hysteria and think about actual numbers and what they’ll mean,” he says. “It’s a story that requires some coordination because there are so many elements to it.”

In his second story, Nathaniel writes, “Companies are likely to shift more money to buybacks after this year because taxes on those gains are expected to grow less than a proposed tax increase on dividends.”

On Friday, Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff followed with a comprehensive look at the tax burden.

The varied sources in the first story stood out to me. Quoted investors included businesspeople from a medical equipment company in Indiana, a manufacturer in Missouri, a construction equipment company in North Carolina, and a chiropractic practice in Virginia.

Nathaniel Popper

The reporters found some through tax accountants and investor groups. But they also reached out to a source I’d never considered: newsletter subscribers. Nathaniel says they asked the newsletter publishers for source suggestions.

The big challenge was finding information to support the thesis that the sell-off was the result of tax changes, Nathaniel says.

“It’s a real moving target and you’re trying to understand the motivation for people’s behavior,” he says. “You’re trying to find evidence that it is and that can be tough.”

 

About the Author

Rosland Gammon is a former business journalist turned college instructor. Her newsroom experience includes reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and reporting and editing at Bloomberg News. Gammon currently teaches communications at Alverno College in Milwaukee. Follow her daily posts. | E-mail: Rosland Gammon

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