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Kelly Carr

Kelly is the Reynolds Center's Senior Online Producer. She has worked as a reporter for several newspapers, most recently The Arizona Republic, and has been an adjunct professor at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College and holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from West Virginia University. Kelly also was a fellow at The Poynter Institute and a contributing writer for "Cancer Stories: Lessons in Love, Loss & Hope."

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Finding your region’s ties to Africa’s booming economies

africa small business

By Flickr user hdptcar

President Obama’s current trip to sub-Saharan Africa, with stops planned for Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa, seemed a timely moment to update the blog post, below, I originally wrote last fall.  As I noted then, “over the past decade, six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies” are in Africa.

That’s a statistic not lost on American corporations; as this recent Wall Street Journal piece notes, household names from General Electric to General Motors to Procter & Gamble are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Africa to sell products from diapers to pickup trucks.  The Corporate Council on Africa appears to be a lobbying and advocacy firm representing American business with Africa; I didn’t see a member list but it boasts nearly 200 corporate partners and might point you to those in your area; note that two upcoming conferences are advertised, including the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in October in Chicago; keep an eye on the site for sponsorship and exhibitor lists that might also lead you to interested parties in your market.

Small businesses aren’t shut out, either.  And while Africa is home to energy and mining giants, this Forbes article, “Solar energy: African economies’ secret weapon” suggests that alternative and renewable energy offers opportunities for small firms, too.

Last winter, a Doing Business in Africa conference was held at the White House; this web page about the conference is packed with leads, including links to programs that facilitate minority-owned businesses in commerce abroad; the report says that minority-owned companies are twice as likely (according to U.S. Census Bureau data) to export their products and services as non-minority-owned firms; I didn’t know that and if your beat includes entrepreneurs, small business or minority business, there’s an interesting nexus of story ideas.  This report from the Minority Business Development Agency, “America’s key to the global marketplace,” has related information.

This publication, The Africa Report, covers politics and economy — and has tons of business-related resources on its website that may spur some story angles for you.  Note its ranking of Top 500 companies – you can sort it by sector and possibly find firms that have ties to those in your region, as either suppliers or customers.

Or, talk with investment experts, brokerage firm industry analysts and mutual fund companies — where might Africa-centric funds or other investments  fit into an average American’s retirement portfolio?  The Economist recently called the continent “the hottest frontier” and said the capital-starved continent is ripe for investment from richer nations.

Here’s the U.S. Chamber of Commerce portal on Africa.  Note the “investment climate updates” for various regions of the continent; they’re fascinating reading and might give you ideas for which local companies might see opportunities there; the report on Kenya, for example, refers to a special economic zone being established near Nairobi as East Africa’s first “techolopolis,” – a city established specifically for technology firms.

For further resources and story ideas, here’s a review of the information posted here in September 2012: 

A snippet overheard on a recent TV news program was cause for pause:  Over the past decade, six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies were in … Africa.

Like many Americans, I’ve been conditioned to think of the so-called dark continent as one of poverty and strife, even while intellectually aware that some areas are middle-class and even prosperous.  It certainly isn’t top-of-mind as a local business angle.  But as this article in The Economist points out, despite some entrenched problems, many African countries are embracing technology, producing a better-educated generation of young people and growing the incomes of their citizens.

What a fascinating trend and what a great opportunity to find your region’s ties to Africa’s growing consumer class and business arena.  Here’s an excellent piece from The Atlantic, “The Next Asia is Africa,” which is chock full of important background information and leads to resources you can pursue.

The discussion primarily involves the sub-Saharan portion of Africa, excluding the Arab states in North Africa. For background, refer to the site of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, a 2000 law that “provides beneficiary countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with the most liberal access to the U.S. market available to any country or region with which we do not have a Free Trade Agreement. ”  The site provides links to a number of resources including data tables and reports.  And here’s a U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) backgrounder about factors affecting trade, by industry.

Finding local companies that trade with Africa will take some digging.  Try state chambers of commerce and economic development units, and even the business schools at area universities.  And of course, if your area is home to household-name multinational corporations, from corn flake makers to IT companies, they likely have African investments and may be aware of others from your market who do business there too.

Right now,  aside from energy, tourism may be the average American’s greatest connection to Africa, so contacting tour operators and outfits like the African Business Travel Association may lead you to people who can discuss what they’re seeing from your state or market.

Other resources:

Imports.  According to the USITC, 2011 imports from sub-Saharan Africa were more than $74 billion in 2011; here’s a breakdown by sector.  Obviously energy and minerals mke up a good share of that but agricultural products, textiles and other sectors were prominent, too.  The U.S. Census Bureau also has trade stats for the entire continent.  And here’s a U.S. commerce department blog post about economic opportunities in Africa.

Exports. Here’s a look at sectors where the United States exports to Africa; note “transportation equipment” (likely buses, cars  — here’s a 2011 USA Today article noting that Ford Motor Co. hopes to boost its Asia/Africa trade to 30 percent of global sales) is a biggie.

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IRE hosts Google Hangout on ICIJ ‘Secrecy for Sale’ investigation

secrecy for sale

A screenshot from ICIJ's series on offshore secrecy.

Dozens of journalists teamed up to dig deep on 2.5 million files attached to more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts.

The result: a groundbreaking investigation on offshore secrecy – “Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze” – from The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The series has already gained international attention, prompting authorities to launch investigations into tax havens and multiple government inquiries. (Check out this post for background details on the series from ICIJ senior editor Michael Hudson.)

Intrigued? Curious to learn more about reporting on this large-scale investigation? You’re in luck.

HANGOUT:  Investigative Reporters & Editors are hosting a Google Hangout with members of the ICIJ team on May 14 at 11 a.m. EDT. You can submit questions in advance to the panel, which includes Hudson, ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle and others who worked on the series.

 

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IRE accepts applicants for its financial investigative journalism fellowship

Investigative Reports and Editors is offering a fellowship for journalists with a demonstrated interest in financial investigative journalism.

The David Dietz Fellowship, an award honoring David Dietz a longtime IRE member and supporter, covers conference registration fees and provides $750 for travel and lodging expenses. The fellow will also receive a yearlong IRE membership and a year-long mentorship with a veteran investigative journalist.

The IRE conference will be held in San Antonio on June 20-23. Applicants must have less than 10 years experience as a professional journalist. Details to apply are on IRE’s website.

David Dietz, Bloomberg Markets reporter

David Dietz

Dietz is a former Bloomberg Markets reporter who passed away from cancer last June. A Columbia Journalism Review article highlighted one of Dietz most notable investigations, “Broken Promises,” which it dubbed a “staggering scandal.” Dietz, along with Bloomberg’s William Selway, Martin Z. Braun, examined $7 million in tax-exempt bond deals that generated millions in fees and investment gains. An exhaustive reporting effort revealed that taxpayers received no benefit. (Here’s more background on Dietz’s impressive journalism career.)

IRE also offers a myriad of other fellowship opportunities open to all experience levels. You can find more details and instruction on how to apply at IRE’s fellowship/scholarship page. 

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Decades on the investigative beat: C-SPAN talks with Barlett & Steele

barlett & steele on cpan

Donald Barlett and Jim Steele were recently featured on C-SPAN's BookTV to discuss their decades of work.

Donald Barlett & Jim Steele, the storied investigative business journalism duo, were recently featured on C-SPAN’s Book TV for an in-depth session that covered everything from past award-winning series to the team’s new book, “The Betrayal of the American Dream.”

And when you have a body of work that stretches over 40 years, includes eight books and has been honored with almost every major journalism prize, a three-hour interview might not seem long enough.

Highlights included stories from Barlett & Steele’s impressive resume and inside details from their revelatory books on tax dodging and Howard Hughes. The pair answered questions from Facebook comments, emails and Tweets. They also shared their thoughts on the future of investigative business journalism in a ever-changing media climate. (Watch the full interview on C-SPAN’s site.)

“There are a lot of good journalists out there…There is a lot of outstanding work going on in this country,” Steele said.

This discussion with two of the top investigative business reporters will leave you feeling inspired. Once you craft your own in-depth work, don’t forget to submit to to our annual Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism. Learn more about past winners and application details for this year’s competition.

 

 

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Veteran investigative journalist Jim Steele kicks off Reynolds Week 2013

Jim Steele shares tips for investigative business journalism with this year's fellows.

Reynolds Week is underway and ASU’s Cronkite School is buzzing with Strictly Financials and Business Journalism Professor fellows anxious to spend four days in intense training.

In the Strictly Financials Seminar, journalists from media outlets across the U.S. will study a variety of topics including markets, financial statements and SEC documents. The Business Journalism Professor fellows will learn tactics for developing a business journalism course and educating the next generation of financial reporters.

Jim Steele, an award-winning business journalist and contributing editor for Vanity Fair, kicked off the seminars with a conversation about investigative reporting. Steele, along with his writing partner Don Barlett, are the only reporting duo to win two Pulitzer Prizes and two National Magazine Awards. They have worked together for more than 40 years at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Time and now for Vanity Fair.

Steele told journalists and professors that it’s a promising time for journalists looking to do more in-depth work, especially because of the easy availability of documents and other information online. Steele remembers having to fly to various locations to inspect documents that are now within reach after a few key strokes.

“This is in many ways a true golden age for investigative reporting because of what’s accessible,” Steele said. “Twenty-four/seven you can go online and see this stuff. That is a huge change.”

To keep tabs on what the fellows are learning this week, check out the Strictly Financials and Business Journalism Professor agendas. We’ll also  post session handouts, videos at updates through the week at our Reynolds Week 2013 blog.

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Reynolds Week 2013: Agenda, Business Journalism Professors

 

“Business Journalism Professors Seminar” – Jan. 2-5

WEDNESDAY — Jan. 2

7:45 a.m. Breakfast (Combined groups) – Taylor Place Cafeteria

8:30 a.m. Welcome and Introductions (Combined groups) – First Amendment Forum, Andrew Leckey

9 a.m. “Business Journalists as Investigators” (Combined groups) – Forum, Jim Steele

10:15-10:30 a.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

10:30 a.m. “Deciding What to Teach” – Room 352, Chris Roush

NOON Box Lunch with Jim Steele (Combined groups) – Forum

1:30 p.m. “Organizing Your Class” - Room 352, Roush

2:30 p.m. Case Study: “Syllabus Writing” – Room 352, Roush

3:15-3:30 p.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

3:30 p.m. “Resources and Keeping Students Interested” - Room 352, Roush

5 p.m. Cronkite School Tour (Combined groups) – Outside Room 302, Kristin Gilger

6 p.m. Dinner (Combined groups) – Taylor Place Cafeteria

 

THURSDAY—Jan. 3, 2013

7:45 a.m. Breakfast (Combined groups) – Taylor Place Cafeteria

8:30 a.m. “Designing Assignments to Build Financial-Journalism Skills” - Room 352, Pam Luecke

9:45 a.m. “10 Secrets to Teaching Business Journalism in Today’s Classroom” - Room 352, Randy Smith

10:15-10:30 a.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

11 a.m. “Teaching the Business Narrative” – Room 352, Alan Deutschman

NOON Barlett & Steele Awards Luncheon and Panel Discussion (Combined groups) – Forum

1:30-2 p.m. Book signing with Jim Steele (Combined groups) – Forum

2 p.m. “Teaching the Effective Use of Data in Business Coverage” – Room 352, Steve Doig

3:30-3:45 p.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

3:45 p.m. “Preparing Students for Internships, Including How to Work with Local Media” – Room 352, Chris Lavelle and Mike Wong

5:45 p.m. Evening Free (Combined groups)

 

FRIDAY—Jan. 4

7:45 a.m. Breakfast (Combined groups) – Taylor Place Cafeteria

8:30 a.m. “Thinking Strategically About Your Class” – Room 352, Jimmy Gentry

10:45-11:00 a.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

11:00 a.m. “Teaching Financial Statements” and “Securities and Exchange Commission Filings” – Room 352, Gentry

NOON Lunch (Combined groups) -Taylor Place Cafeteria

1:30 p.m. “Teaching Financial Statements” (continued) and “Teaching Markets” - Room 352, Gentry

3-3:15 p.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

3:15 p.m. “Tools for Analysis: Common Size” and “Creating Cases”  - Room 352, Gentry

5 p.m. Group photos (Combined groups) – Forum

6 p.m. Dinner with cash bar (Combined groups) – Cibo, 603 N. 5th Ave., Phoenix.

 

SATURDAY —Jan. 5

7:15 a.m. Breakfast (Combined groups) – Taylor Place Cafeteria

8 a.m. “What Editors Expect” – Room 352, Linda Austin, Ilana Lowery and Kathy Tulumello

9-10:30 a.m. “Injecting Multimedia into Your Business Journalism Class” – Room 352, Mark Tatge

10:30-10:45 a.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

10:45-11:30 a.m. “Jumpstarting Your Program When You Get Home” – Room 352, Andrew Leckey

11:30 a.m. Certificate Presentation (Combined groups) – Forum

NOON Box Lunch/Adjourn (Combined groups)- Forum

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Reynolds Week 2013: Agenda, Strictly Financials

 




“Strictly Financials Seminar” – Jan. 2-5

WEDNESDAY — Jan. 2

7:45 a.m. Breakfast (Combined groups) – Taylor Place Cafeteria

8:30 a.m. Welcome and Introductions (Combined groups) – First Amendment Forum, Andrew Leckey

9 a.m. “Business Journalists as Investigators” (Combined groups) – Forum, Jim Steele

10:15-10:30 a.m. Break - Third floor landing overlooking Forum

10:30 a.m. “Markets: An Overview” – Room 314, Jimmy Gentry

NOON Box Lunch with Jim Steele (Combined groups) – Forum

1:30 p.m. “Understanding Financial Statements: Income Statement” – Room 314, Gentry

3:15-3:30 p.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

3:30 p.m. “Understanding Financial Statements: Income Statement, Common Size Analysis, and SEC Documents” – Room 314, Gentry

5 p.m. Cronkite School Tour (Combined groups) – Outside Room 302, Kristin Gilger

6 p.m. Dinner (Combined groups) – Taylor Place Cafeteria

 

THURSDAY—Jan. 3, 2013

7:45 a.m. Breakfast (Combined groups) – Taylor Place Cafeteria

8:30 a.m. “Understanding Financial Statements: Balance Sheet and Cash Flows and Sources” – Room 314, Gentry

10:15-10:30 a.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

10:30 a.m. “Digging Deeper: Goodwill and Pro Forma” – Room 314, Gentry and Gary Trennepohl

NOON Barlett & Steele Awards Luncheon and Panel Discussion (Combined groups) – Forum

1:30-2 p.m. Book signing with Jim Steele (Combined groups) – Forum

2 p.m. “Digging Deeper: Banks and Comparing Companies” - Room 314, Gentry and Trennepohl

3:30-3:45 p.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

3:45 p.m. “Using SEC Documents in Investigative Reporting” - Room 314, Brian Grow

5:45 p.m. Evening Free (Combined groups)

 

FRIDAY—Jan. 4

7:45 a.m. Breakfast (Combined groups) – Taylor Place Cafeteria

8:30 a.m. “Decoding Financial Statements” – Room 314, Trennepohl

10:15-10:30 a.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

10:30 a.m. “Decoding Financial Statements” (continued) – Room 314, Trennepohl

NOON Lunch (Combined groups) -Taylor Place Cafeteria

1:30 p.m. “Decoding Financial Statements” (continued) – Room 314, Trennepohl

3-3:15 p.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

3:15 p.m. “Investing in a Time of Uncertainty” - Room 314, Trennepohl

5 p.m. Group photos (Combined groups) – Forum

6 p.m. Dinner with cash bar (Combined groups) – Cibo, 603 N. 5th Ave., Phoenix.

 

SATURDAY —Jan. 5

7:45 a.m. Breakfast (Combined groups) – Taylor Place Cafeteria

8:30 a.m. “Financial Markets in 2013: Where are the Stories”  – Room 314, Trennepohl

9:45-10 a.m. Break – Third floor landing overlooking Forum

10 a.m. “Financial Markets in 2013: Where are the Stories” (continued) – Room 314, Trennepohl
RM 314 Trennepohl

11:30 a.m. Certificate Presentation (Combined groups) – Forum

NOON Box Lunch/Adjourn (Combined groups)- Forum

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Sutton stays at Grambling to lead public relations and communications

sutton leckey

Will Sutton (left) and Andrew Leckey, president of the Reynolds Center.

Will Sutton, a 2012 Reynolds Center Visiting Professor, will join Grambling State University as acting Director of Public Relations and Communications.

Since January, Sutton taught a business journalism class at Grambling as part of the Reynolds Center’s Visiting Professor Program, which pairs veteran journalists with academic institutions to encourage stronger financial training. Sutton, whose career included leading award-winning teams at various media outlets, was one of four visiting professors funded by a $1.67 million grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

In his new role, Sutton will handle Grambling’s public relations and communications. He will also advise journalism students as they embark on professional careers.

“None of this would be possible without the wonderful visiting professor opportunity provided by the Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism and the opportunity to share business and business journalism knowledge with students at Grambling State University,” Sutton said in an e-mail. “This job  gives me the chance to have a broad impact on the university while still working with students.”

While teaching at Grambling, Sutton founded a professional development program for journalists and also pushed for diversity on the business beat. This spring, his 11-point plan for adding diversity to business journalism ranks prompted a vibrant online discussion and eventually action. After reading Sutton’s challenge, Jill Jorden Spitz, president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, vowed to explore bring business journalism training to five high schools. She also said the organization will strive to award five minority students scholarships to the 2013 SABEW Annual Conference in Washington D.C.

“We have enjoyed having Will on campus as a visiting professor, and we’re thrilled that he’s agreed to stay and help us communicate all the good news about our wonderful university,” President Frank D. Pogue said in a press release. “We know someone of his caliber will automatically have respect from his media peers and our academic community, and we know he can help us.”

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Covering shadow banking: An introduction and tips for digging

The shadow banking system. Have you heard of it? If not, it’s vital to spend the time to begin to understand the movements of this group of financial intermediaries that operate outside of the traditional banking system.

Mary Fricker

Mary Fricker, Photo: Santa Rosa Press Democrat

After all, according to RepoWatch’s Mary Fricker, shadow banking was a central player in the financial crisis. She said the industry also provides a about half of the credit in the U.S. If investors connected to these banks lose faith in their securities, the unraveling could once again have big time consequences for our financial systems.

It’s also an area ripe with coverage potential for journalists in both local and national newsrooms.

“Shadow banking is the best story in business journalism today” said Fricker. “Great stories lie ahead. We need to get ready.”

Fricker, along with ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger and Bloomberg’s Brad Keoun led a session to teach journalists about shadow banking during the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editor’s Conference in Boston. Fricker runs the investigative site, RepoWatch, which is focused on the repurchasing market. Jesse

To grab more tips on everything from investigating in China to tacking influence in campaign contributions, stop by IRE’s conference blog.

I was lucky enough to attend this year’s conference and had the chance to jump in to learn on all sorts of topics from some of the best investigative journalists around. The shadow banking session was one that definitely stuck with me and an area I’m excited to dive deeper into.

I asked Fricker to share her introductory tips for covering the topic. You’ll find her detailed steps for telling shadow banking stories below. After reading it, I’m sure you’ll be excited to start digging.

For more, Marketplace’s Paddy Hirsch explains shadow banking on his Whiteboard video feature.

Hirsch puts it simply: “Why was (and is) shadow banking such a threat? Because the institutions in the shadow banking system are essentially unregulated.”