Felix Salmon

The brilliant Joe Weisenthal

May 10, 2012

Binyamin Appelbaum has delivered a 3,000-word day in the life of Joe Weisenthal for the NYT Magazine, complete with 18-page slideshow. (“7:06 am: Weisenthal catches the 6 train uptown from his apartment at the edge of the Financial district to the Business Insider offices in the Flatiron District.”) Nothing in the piece will come as any surprise to anybody who follows @TheStalwart on Twitter, although I think that Appelbaum doesn’t quite nail the way in which Twitter allows Joe to keep up a running self-deprecating meta-commentary on how crazy the job is that he’s given himself. You’ll never find a CNBC anchor, for instance, tweeting out anything like this, from this morning:

Why is an FT subscription so expensive?

May 3, 2012

Wired has a big article on A/B testing this month, which makes a good point:

Today, A/B is ubiquitous, and one of the strange consequences of that ubiquity is that the way we think about the web has become increasingly outdated. We talk about the Google homepage or the Amazon checkout screen, but it’s now more accurate to say that you visited a Google homepage, an Amazon checkout screen.

When is a scoop non-public information?

April 25, 2012

Many thanks to everybody who responded to my provocation yesterday, where I suggested that the NYT could sell advance access to its stories. John Gapper summed it up well, in a tweet: “If scoops don’t matter to most readers, as the digerati claim,” he said, it’s logical to sell them to those who do value them. Which, in this case, would be hedge-funds capable of front-running the news and making a profit when the news moves markets.

The problem with Netflix

April 24, 2012

Nick Thompson today asks whether Netflix is doomed, and gives a fantastic potted history of how the company managed to pivot from being a wonderful DVD-by-mail company to being a clumsy digital-platform play.

Could the NYT make money from its scoops?

April 24, 2012

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the NYT’s Walmart exposé this weekend is that it was such a surprise to the market. Note this, for instance:

What the Loebs can learn from the Pulitzers

April 18, 2012

I’m not a huge fan of journalism awards. The Pulitzers, in particular, are a peculiar fish: they tend to award long and worthy work which almost nobody had the time to wade through when it first came out. That’s a type of journalism, to be sure — but is it the very best journalism that the profession produces? And while this year’s journalism winners were very good, the editorial cartoons which got Politico its first Pulitzer were so bad as to make one wonder whether the quality of the jury’s awards was more a matter of luck than judgment.

Why was the JOBS Act so hard to cover?

April 5, 2012

Bloomberg, yesterday, and the NYT, today, have come out with big news articles about the dangers and complications inherent in the JOBS Act. The NYT has found a Davis Polk note to clients saying that the JOBS Act represents “the most significant legislative loosening in memory of restrictions around the IPO process and public company reporting obligations”. As Ben Walsh documents, this is something which was well known to the opinion side of most news organizations weeks ago, but only seems to be dawning on the news side right now, after it’s too late.

Strange bedfellows: Gretchen Morgenson and Patrick Byrne

March 26, 2012

Today’s story from Gretchen Morgenson, about Goldman Sachs and short selling, is notable for two things. One one front, it fails to deliver: Morgenson seems to be trying to make a case that Goldman might be guilty of naked shorting, but she doesn’t really come close. On a second front, however, it’s a great leap forwards for Morgenson.

Bloomberg’s weird Buffett spoiler

March 23, 2012

Bloomberg and Fortune had weirdly competing stories Wednesday on the subject of Warren Buffett’s “million-dollar bet“. The bet’s duration is ten years from January 1, 2008; Buffett is betting a million dollars that the S&P 500 will outperform a fund of hedge funds.