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Jon Talton

What a friend we have in FRED
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What a friend we have in FRED

By on Jul 29, 2014

Mark Twain noted that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Fraud with numbers is something business journalists should always be alert to. But there are gold-standard statistics that no one outside the lunatic fringe questions. And the top place to find them is on the FRED site run by the Federal Reserve Bank of [...]

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Hack to flacks: PR advice from a cranky journalist
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Hack to flacks: PR advice from a cranky journalist

Some of you will go directly into public relations or “public affairs” (I always wanted to be in public affairs, but that’s another story). Others are journalists who will leave mid-career for the “dark side” of PR. The latter used to be a sure shot — journalists had the best contacts, writing skills, etc. That’s [...]

Getting punked; getting clarity
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Getting punked; getting clarity

Years ago when I worked in San Diego, I covered a company whose chief executive was truth challenged. So when a fax came across (yes, it was that long ago) claiming that the company had triumphed in a dispute with federal regulators I was suspicious. I called the feds and discovered that the company had [...]

Midyear opportunities for business journalists
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Midyear opportunities for business journalists

With June 30th, we’ve reached the important mid-year point where you can take stock of myriad yardsticks of performance (this is why your editors wanted you to get your expenses in early). It marks the midpoint in the metrics of many companies that follow the calendar year. It also gives you a chance to see [...]

When sources say stupid things
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When sources say stupid things

Friends don’t let friends write drunk, unless one is at the Algonquin Round Table. But what happens when sources say something demonstrably stupid? Do you put in in the paper or online? Let me be clear. First, there is an eternal debate about cleaning up quotes to make them grammatical and keep the speaker from [...]

What’s in your wallet … er, mobile device
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What’s in your wallet … er, mobile device

At the shooting at Seattle Pacific University, Seattle Times reporters made heavy use of Twitter for news, updates and photos. But business writers need their mobile devices, too. Here are the apps I find useful if I have to work on the fly with my iPhone and iPad. Maybe commenters will offer some other suggestions. [...]

About those ‘negative’ stories…
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About those ‘negative’ stories…

Business journalists especially face the accusation of being “negative.” Companies want to control their image. Many small outfits have no experience in dealing with the press. Also, more and more, we live in a culture of relentless sales and hype. Many Americans are irrationally optimistic, as Barbara Ehrenreich discussed in her book, Bright-Sided: How Positive [...]

Background, off the record and you
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Background, off the record and you

The most authoritative quotes come from on-the-record named sources, preferably senior executives, labor leaders, scientists, economists and workers with direct knowledge of the news. But there will come times in your career when it’s necessary to used unnamed sources in order to bring some of the most important information to light. While one usually thinks [...]

Business journalism for dummies, part 2
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Business journalism for dummies, part 2

In the previous Business Journalism for Dummies post, I laid out some of the basics you need to know if you’re starting out or moving over to business news from metro or features. Now let’s move on to some macro concepts that should inform much of your coverage, even if you’re on the small-business beat. [...]

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