Category Archives: gurvey

Trump and the Employment Report, fact and fiction, Pt. 2

Numbers are funny things. Even though they appear to be absolute, a clever manipulator can twist them to make pretty much any point he wants to make. Take President Trump’s statement from February: “Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.” It might seem preposterous but it is correct, as the great sage Obi-Wan-Kenobi once said, “from a certain point of view.”

It is the number you get if you take the total U.S. population 16-years of age and older and subtract the people the BLS says are in the labor force. That number includes everyone who is retired, and most high-school, college, graduate or vocational school student. It also includes the disabled, homemakers, some self-employed and those living off their investments.

My guide to reporting the employment report continues at businessjournalism.org….

Trump and the Employment Report, fact and fiction, Pt. 1

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Employment Situation Report for February on March 10, showing a healthy 235,000 gain in payroll employment. Asked what President Trump thought about the numbers, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, “I talked to the president prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly,” Spicer said. “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”

Many of the reporters present laughed. I cringed.

Over the years on public television’s Nightly Business Report, I filed countless “numbers” pieces. The monthly employment reports were most closely watched. For better or worse these reports often had an immediate financial market moving impact, making them lead stories for a market driven broadcast.

I cringed because I believe attempts to undermine the credibility of these reports do a great disservice.

Continues at businessjournalism.org….

Lunch with Paul Kangas, Nightly Business Report

Paul Kangas

I remember one specific lunch with Paul Kangas. Silly, isn’t it? I spent a fair amount of time with Paul during the many years I was associated with public television’s Nightly Business Report. That included several meals with a man who, among many other things, appreciated good food and drink. Why would one particular lunch stand out?

It was 1990. A year before I had moved from Chicago, my hometown, where I worked for CBS, NBC, and as a freelance contributor for NBR, to New York. Here I was NBR’s New York Bureau Chief and Senior Correspondent. Paul had been with NBR since it first went on the air in 1979. A former stockbroker, Paul was at first the broadcast’s stock commentator. Later he added co-anchor to his role.

But Paul was so much more than his title implies. On a broadcast that itself defined a new role for business news on television, Paul set the standard for both the program and the industry.

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Financial Market Reporting, Part 5: "Real Stuff," Commodities and Futures Contracts

The latest in my series on financial market reporting is live at the Reynold’s Center:

Previous posts introduced the markets and the best-known investment vehicles, stocks and bonds. But even if you don’t own one of those investments, you probably have placed a considerable amount of money in a different asset class, although you may not consider these to be investments.

I’m referring to real assets, physical items, the “stuff” we accumulate throughout our life. If you’ve ever sold an item on eBay, you know what I mean. You might have sold a used item you’ve upgraded or outgrown. Or you could have sold a “collectable,” an item you bought in the belief that its value would grow over time (Beanie Babies, anyone?) These are “real” assets.

Continued at businessjournalism.org….

9-11 + 15

9-11_memorial_namesI did not go to witness the ceremony of remembrance at the 9-11 Memorial today. I am never comfortable when I am at the 16 acre site of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. It’s not the memories. Those come and go depending on what is going on in the world. It’s the images which lingered before me for months after that day. Now they almost never return. Unless I am at the site.

On September 11, 2001, my wife Amy and I lived in Battery Park City in lower Manhattan. We had moved there from midtown just a few months earlier. Our apartment building was at the south end of the neighborhood, south and west of WTC Tower #2. I was the New York Bureau Chief and Senior Correspondent for public television’s Nightly Business Report and the newsroom/production facility/broadcast studio was just across West Street, even closer to the tower, due south of the site. Tower #2 filled the window of my bedroom, and of my office.

I was putting on my tie when I heard a noise I later described as the sound of a dump truck unloading gravel at my feet. Running to the window, I saw smoke coming from the top of tower #1, the view partially obscured by #2, which was closer to me. I had been through the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, so I did think of that. But I thought in terms of a bomb planted inside, or an explosion on one of the equipment floors toward the top of the building. It was 8:46am.

Continue reading…

Star Trek at 50

Star Trek

Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock and William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk

50 Years. It is hard to believe. I still remember where I was and who I was watching with on September 8, 1966, when Star Trek premiered on NBC. If only we knew then what we know now.

The anniversary has triggered a deluge of comments on social media and, as is usual in this day and age a great deal of controversy. And why not? The original series, now formally known as TOS, has been followed by four more, plus an animated series. And a fifth is on its way. On this date we can also count a franchise of 13 films. I’m not going to even try to total the number of novels, comic books, works of non-fiction about the Star Trek world and the success of the concept. Or the number of doctoral dissertations written about this phenomena, or the number of college courses taught on Star Trek themes. It is all a moving target.

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And because in these days of social media anything and everything becomes an issue for debate, it should be noted that while many commentators see Star Trek as a noble venture which presented sensitive and controversial issues to a world not ready to openly discuss them and encouraged generations of young people to pursue careers in the sciences, others see Star Trek as a fable describing a Utopian world to which even it was not faithful. Like most of these disputes, where is some truth in both positions.

It is true that Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, saw his vehicle as a subversive instrument for getting the ideals of a world where race, sex and nationality no longer determined outcomes before a nation not yet ready to face these issues head on. At the same time, Star Trek was first and foremost an entertainment. And by the standards of the day a failure, never achieving a huge audience and surviving only 3 years. But something resonated and syndicated showings of the original 80 or so episodes, it depends how you count, brought generation after generation into the Star Trek universe. The result is a unique chapter in the history of culture still being written.

On the science front, I find it fascinating, with apologies to Mr. Spock, that we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek on the day NASA plans to send a satellite on a mission to orbit an asteroid, collect a sample, and return it to earth. The journey continues.

Financial Reporting Part 1

Today I take on a new project, writing about financial market reporting for the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, which is based at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Hopefully these thoughts on my experiences over the years will be of value to journalists new to journalism, or just taking up an assignment on the business beat.
Please be gentle with your reviews!

Financial Reporting Part 1

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