April 30, 2008

The New Media: Time to Merge with Old Media?

Warning, today’s blog is cranky. If you’re not in the mood for moping, turn this channel off. For starters, I am bummed the “new” Wall Street Journal is less business and more politics/world affairs. In my opinion, Rupert Murdoch is killing the brand and the unique WSJ experience. In Monday’s edition, it seemed like only one article in Section A was devoted to business and the other two sections were limited to two pages in length. Looks like a fast – rather than a slow – death for those that read the WSJ for their business updates.

Moving on, I got a chuckle reading Prof. Steven Davidoff’s observation that most of the mainstream media mistook a registration rights offering registered with the SEC by employees of Apollo Global Management as a filing by the fund to go public. As the Professor noted, “it’s nothing of the sort.”

I definitely can relate since I deal with journalists on a daily basis in this job. Understandably, many of them don’t know the intricacies of SEC filings compared to those of us that have lived with them for our entire careers. Nor should they; their jobs force them to become generalists on dozens – if not hundreds – of topics.

The ability of bloggers to provide analysis of developments in their narrow niches is what makes the Web so great – and threatens the viability of mass media. Wearing my journalist’s hat a few months ago, I sat on a panel with major business reporters in New York and had some mild disagreements about whether bloggers could provide real value since they typically aren’t trained as journalists. Clearly some can (and of course, some can’t since there is no barrier to entry to become a blogger). Perhaps proving the point that some can, Professor Davidoff’s blog has recently become part of the NY Times’ DealBook empire. I imagine we will see more of the melding of non-traditional and “real” journalists in the near term…

As one member recently emailed me, we can file this under “Things That Make You Go Hmmm.”

And One More Thing…

Another thing I’ve noticed with old media: As all the traditional newspapers have undergone severe cuts in staffing over the past few years, the number of errors – both large and small – seem to have tripled. Check out this recent – and novel – press release from the SEC. It’s purpose is to point out an error in a NY Times article. It’s a rare type of press release and thankfully so, because if the SEC issued a press release for every error committed by a journalist covering this “space,” I imagine there would be more than a handful of folks in the SEC’s Office of Public Affairs.

Speaking of the NY Times, SEC Enforcement Director Linda Thomsen responded to a recent NY Times article that was critical of the Division’s efforts by delivering this public statement. Given that the SEC likely disagrees with all sorts of things written in the media, I imagine that this response is directed more broadly to the various quarters (including some members of Congress) that have been critical of Enforcement lately.

And speaking of the SEC’s Office of Public Affairs, I wonder who put them up to issuing this odd press release yesterday to announce that Corp Fin has made its recommendations to the Commission regarding proposals on the cross-border tender, exchange offer and business combination rules? That’s a new one – and I doubt we shall see a press release each time a rulemaking is sent to the 10th floor for consideration. Maybe OPA did add some bodies…

Survey: Auditors Asking to Review Board Minutes

Recently, in our “Q&A Forum,” a member asked what is the common practice when an independent auditor asks a client to review their board minutes. I provided my own thoughts on what that practice might be – but I pose the question to you to see if we can build a consensus:

Opinion Polls & Market Research

– Broc Romanek