Media Excursion To The City That Never Sleeps

In a city where everyone is always on the go and no one ever stops, the news doesn't either. Last week I had the chance to visit some media outlets that keeps pumping out the business news in New York City.

From Fortune Magazine to Fox Business News, I learned the inner ropes of how business news runs in a big city. This trip was part of a business journalism course I took this past semester.

On Tuesday, PC Magazine was our first stop. In January of 2009, PC Mag ended their print issues and became an online publication only. We spoke with Editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff who told us if they hadn't made this decision, he believes they wouldn't have survived. To gain readers PC Mag uses search engine optimization to the fullest. They do this by saturating the terms they think people will search, especially in the headline of their articles. They design their stories around key terms. Ulanoff said it's better to clear than clever. He said he believes it's a science and an art to master gaining readership through search engine optimization. He thoroughly enjoys having an online publication though because he believes they are much more connected to their readers than before, especially by having a comment section on the articles. One of the hard things reporters must face when writing for this magazine is managing their language. Everything must be written in lamens terms, although they don't necessarily shy away from using a bit of jargon because they believe their readers are pretty knowledgeable in technology.

The next day we woke up early and headed out the Good Morning America studios. Although they obviously don't cover business based news, it was still a good learning experience. When we first got there they had been setting up the outdoor stage for that day's guests: the Dancing With The Stars finalists, Nicole Scherzinger, Evan Lysacek, Erin Andrews, and their trainers. The production crew led us through the lined up crowd and right up next to the stage where the finalists would be performing. After their interviews the hosts and finalists came out to the stage to answer some fan's questions and do some dancing. I was very interested in seeing how the crew set up their cameras and how the show is filmed around the stage. We also had the chance to see the studios. Check out the video below to see the finalists dancing at the end of the show.

Next we went to Crain's New York Business. For 25 years Crain's, a family owned private company, has thrived in the toughest market in the country. The trade publication covers various industries including automotive and healthcare. There are two dozen Crain's publications across the country. Crain's New York itself has 13 reporters who cover 22 beats. Because it's a weekly paper they don't exactly cover the biggest news stories in a common way. If they did, the article could be old news by the time it comes out. As far as the web, they use it to supplement the print edition - for example they do video profiles on businesses that were recognized as great NY businesses in the print edition. Most views, from 80,000 - 90,000 people, comes from the daily newsletters. Their online publication is where most of the growth is happening, but they still rely heavily on their print publication. Although print went from 90 percent of revenues to 70 percent of revenues they still say it's what "covers the bills." It was very interesting to see how a publication like this runs.

At FOX Business we met with the news director. He shared with us the journey he took to get where he is now. We also talked about how TV is becoming more interactive and how he came up with the concept of the HD wings. I've never really thought much about doing network news, but after speaking with a few employees there I have considered it. I think even working web for network news would be exciting. I loved being able to see the studio for the web. Although it didn't surprise me they had an entire studio dedicated to their webcast, I still enjoyed seeing it because I've never seen one before.

BusinessWire is a client based service and fortunately our next visit after FOX. BusinessWire works with clients such as Pfizer, Altria, Philip Morris International, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. They write press releases for their clients to transmit them to people such as journalists and investor services. The press releases include more than just simple text. They also post the logo of their client, photos, multimedia and social networking links. itself gets more than 40.8 million page views and 6.6 million visitors per month. Their feed is sent out in 18 languages. In the newsroom no one is allowed to have their cellphones out. Employees are closely watched. Any sort of news released before it's supposed to be released could strongly effect the stock market. I could definitely see the trust Businesswire puts into its employees to do their job.

After a short train ride and walk we arrived at LAW 360. LAW 360 is another news release business that writes for lawyers and their clients. It's a subscription based service that writes for a lot of lawyers because they believe it's a good way for them to keep in touch with their clients and to stay in the know. LAW360 is a newer business located up in space that looks like a loft. I noticed how this made the newsroom have a completely different atmosphere than a regular newsroom. It was very chic, spacious, and sunlight poured into through the windows creating a happy mood throughout the newsroom.

No other building impressed me more than Bloomberg though. No pictures are allowed to be taken inside, but I don't think I'll ever forget it. Inside, all the meeting rooms are made with clear glass. This allows CEO Lex Fenwick to keep a watchful eye over his employees at all times of the day and the clear glass gives the sense of transparency in a supposed transparent business. Near the door and on the wall outside each of the meeting rooms is the name of a different world capital and the number of terminals sold in the city that month. Each month the number is scraped off and changed. The reception area boasts a large LED screen flashing market conditions from all around the world and several fish tanks. The architectural expression of the building is just amazing.

On Thursday morning we had a chance to sit in on a production meeting at Bloomberg. The show the crew was working on runs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. At the production meeting they book guests and set up an online of the next days show. Since the show is so early they tend to have to book guests from Europe. One of the things I really liked about how Bloomberg is run is every three months employees are split up into teams and are given different topics to cover.

After Bloomberg we visited Fortune Magazine. We sat down with editor-at-large Carol Loomis and senior editor-at-large Allan Sloan. Carol shared with stories when she first became a journalist and how it was to be a woman journalist at the time. Allan had some really good stories as well. We got their input on where they think the future of journalism in going.

Next was the Wall Street Journal tour. I've been a fan of Wall Street Journal and narrative story telling style for years so I was super excited to speak with those who work there. The WSJ just recently moved to a new building after being bought out by News Corporation. Inside are pictures of how the WSJ used to be decades away, which I found interesting. Downstairs in the newsroom is also a very special memorial for Daniel Pearl. Placed on the wall is three different plaques, one stating "His spirit inspires journalists everywhere to shine the light of truth and understanding into all corners of the world." This memorial truly took my breath away.

After touring the place we sat down with page one editor. He explained to us how stories make it to the front page and gave us three great examples. The three main things that put a story on the front page is when a reporter turns out a great story because they go on a wild goose chase--- mainly from getting crazy ideas from covering their beat well, an editor presents a great idea to a reporter, and when the reporter pushes through difficult circumstances and puts out a great story. He suggested that when writing stories, direct your idea towards a universal theme, but don't outright say it. He also told us to put something funny in every story. It always helps the reader, especially if the story is depressing. The online managing editor stopped by and we spent time talking about their online publication and a new application has for smart phones.

After the WSJ, we made our way over to CNN Money. The host took us around the station, showing us the editing bays, control room, and the newsrooms. This tour mainly consisted of showing us how the station is run. Of course I loved it because I'm a broadcast major. We learned how the website works and how the newsroom works together on it.

The last day of our tours we visited the New York Stock Exchange and Standard and Poor's.

In a very rare occasion, our group was allowed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Unfortunately I was upstairs in the broadcast room looking for a jacket to wear on the floor while the 9 opening bell rang, but I still thought it was pretty amazing to be able to walk around on the floor while trading was going on. We also talked with a few brokers to learn what they do. We learned they are redesigning the floor to allow upstairs traders to come downstairs. Reconstruction will also change the way the camera angles are on television. The brokers described the people on the floor as "fun-loving." They said it's not a very high stressed environment... and those torn pieces of paper you see on the floor? "That's usually just lunch orders." For the most part they told us that technology is really taking over. The number of people have been reduced, one person can now do the job that multiple people used to do. As one of the brokers said, "If anything feels old, it's the building."

After walking the floor we moved upstairs to speak with a public relations representative. He talked with us about what he does. He said for the main part he is frustrated, not with individuals in the media, but with the way the media itself is structured. He said it's easy to make errors because the media wants to get out the information quick, but overall he really enjoys his job.

Our last stop, Standard and Poor's, served as a great way to learn about what credit rating analysts do. On 65-70,000 articles are published each year. These articles cover companies and rate them. The rating is basically a forward looking opinion of relative creditworthiness and their ability to pay full and on time. Investors and issuers rely on their ratings because they provide an independent opinion of creditworthiness. S&P's rates over $32 trillion of debt, in nearly 100 countries, issued by 37,000 issuers. The host at S&P's took us through the rating process and how the keep the ratings fair. S&P has 14,000 credit analysts around the world. Their business model is based on ethics, efficiency, quality, and transparency. It's always interesting to hear how businesses like these stick to the value of ethics, and I definitely learned a lot about that at S&P's.

Even after all these tours, I still had time to take a stroll in Central Park and Battery Park, take a ride to the top of Rockefeller Center, attend a Yankee's game, get a taste of Chinatown, run into Brian Williams, Jimmy Fallon and Peter Alexander, take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty, visit the WTC site, watch as they taped the Today Show, and tour a lot of the Manhattan area. Overall you could say it was a pretty great trip. Click on the slideshow below to view more photos from the tours.


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