Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

Controversy, yes. Hostility, no

November 20, 2013

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CNNMoney's Annalyn Kurtz wrote about how Janet Yellen breezed through questions from the Senate Banking Committee.

Ms. Yellen will face hostile questioning from Republican senators who oppose the Fed’s policy of quantitative easing. (Financial Times, Nov. 13)

Many analysts had predicted a rough hearing for Ms. Yellen, given the antipathy of congressional Republicans toward the Obama administration, the poor state of the economy and the controversies around quantitative easing – as well as usual Capitol Hill skepticism about the Fed. But she faced generally genial questioning, and failed to make news – a good thing for a Fed chief. (New York Times, Nov. 14)

You could be forgiven on Nov. 13 for thinking that Janet Yellen, the nominee for chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, was going under the hot light the next day at her confirmation hearing. “Analysts” figured that senators, especially Republican senators, would be merciless in their attacks, and that Yellen would leave the hearing room bruised and bloody.

Surprise! That’s not what happened. Although Yellen was challenged on her support for “qualitative easing,” it was not the bloodbath that so many predicted. It was quite civil, and at no time was there even a hint that she would be denied confirmation.

It’s another example of what The Bloomberg Way calls its fifth “F” of news writing: “Future word.” It turns out to be wrong often enough to render it useless. That it wasn’t Lawrence Summers sitting at the table instead of Yellen should knock some sense into the financial press.

Avoid the “future word.”  The Bloomberg Way needs a sixth “F.”

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Michelle Quinn, the new business columnist at the San Jose Mercury News, writes her first column and argues that the tech companies in Silicon Valley need to talk to the media more. (Talking Biz News)

Whine, whine, whine. No, Michelle Quinn, tech companies do not “need” to talk to the media more. Reporters need to talk to tech companies more, and I don’t mean their PR people. It’s called developing sources, and it’s not easy. Some companies are especially tough to crack. Apple is the best example of corporate reticence, and you can’t argue that it hasn’t paid off. Seemingly no one at Apple talks about products in the pipeline, and the reward is fawning coverage that amounts to free advertising.

Get out and talk to people. Don’t wait for them to talk to you.

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This article also said raw white mushrooms contained suspected carcinogens and that eating raw alfalfa sprouts frequently could contribute to inflammatory arthritis or lupus.

Are any of those statements scientifically sound? I have no idea, and, though I like many of those vegetables cooked, I won’t stop eating them raw, either. (Amelia Freidline in The Packer)

Freidline writes for a trade publications, but that’s no excuse. The headline on her story, “Misinformation abounds in Internet age,” is accurate. It would be nice if writers like Freidline wouldn’t add to the problem.

She is, of course, free to pick the toadstools in her back yard and eat them, but if she has “no idea” whether raw white mushrooms contain “suspected carcinogens,” she damn well ought to find out. (It took me two minutes to learn from a reputable source that raw mushrooms can be bad for you. If I had another five minutes, I could probably find out whether they might cause cancer, but that’s Freidline’s job, not mine.

———

Everything a “brand” does is to “boost profit.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette might as well have left the headline space blank. (Also, the product shot might as well have been an ad.)

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