Robert's Feed
Dec 27, 2010

Cash-strapped consumers (From the cranky editor files)

“Cash-strapped” needs some time to recover from overuse. About 500 years should do it. “Cash-strapped consumers” too.

Why do we like it so much? I’m not sure. I guess:

- We find it hard to say “people who can’t afford as much as they used to,” or “poor people” or “people trying to save money.” Those are lengthy and even awkward, depending on the sentence in which you use them. The problem with “cash-strapped,” when you examine it closely, is that it is so convenient that almost no other construction will do, so we use and use and use the phrase until it’s warn smooth like a stone. And that’s the problem, it has no traction left. It sounds like one more word in the dictionary, not an evocative phrase.

Dec 24, 2010

I reckon I aim to tell you that it is set to happen (From the cranky editor files)

I don’t “aim to” do things in my stories. When I was growing up, the people who said they “aim to” do things invariably were born and raised in the South. It might come naturally to Texans and Floridians, but in all uses in our stories, it sounds like rednecks or cowboys talking. I remember water-skiing (badly) in DeLeon Springs off the St John’s River in Florida when I was 14. Karen, the girl who took us out in the boat, kept “aimin’ for to do” this and that. Nice girl, but she was born chicken-fried if you know what I mean. If I want southern and I want news, I’ll take Holly Hunter’s diction in “Broadcast News” instead. I’d rather we “planned” to do things or “wanted” to do things. But I see “aims to” all the time.

The same goes for “is to.” Microsoft “is to announce” or “is set to announce.” Nice scoop, nice matcher, whatever it is. But I’m sneering anyway because it strikes my ear as a combination of lame, high-handed and, well, English. Let’s be strong in our words if we can. Stronger than this never-edited peeve essay, at least.

Dec 23, 2010

You’re an American, you’re not ‘keen on’ anything (From the cranky editor files)

In our stories, we often say that people or companies are “keen on” something or “keen to” do something. Most American readers know what that means, and most non-British speakers understand it too. Nevertheless, it is odd when stories written and published in the United States feature British English phrases that involve “keen.”

I suspect that our reporters  and editors adopt this word into their lexicons after a few years of working at a news organization whose soul resides in the UK, even if its shares do not. Our writing works best when we write as simply as we can. “Keen” is a short word, but “want” is always better, and it works all over the English-speaking world.

Dec 22, 2010

Bulls and bears belong in the pasture (From the cranky editor files)

The headline of the story is “Investors enter 2011 in bullish mood.” The first paragraph begins with the same sentence.


I understand that people who work on Wall Street and in the financial world in general understand very well the words, “bull,” “bear,” “bullish” and “bearish.” Journalists who cover financial news naturally learn those words quickly, along with lots of other words that are endemic to this world.

Dec 14, 2010
via MediaFile

Selling the news: Reuters, the AP and Tribune

We and others reported Monday night that our parent company Thomson Reuters Corp is starting a U.S. general news service for U.S. publishers and broadcasters. Though my employer, Reuters News, has been providing general and business/financial/economic news for more than a century, we didn’t have a service before that would rely on a big group of hired journalists and stringers to get busy covering U.S. news in a large way.

You can see our story here, as well as the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and stories, for more information. One of the interesting aspects that we didn’t get into in our story is one of the reasons that Tribune Co, Reuters America’s first client, decided to work with our parent company.

Nov 26, 2010
via MediaFile

Martha’s Vineyard Gazette sold to KKR co-founder Kohlberg


I’ve always been thankful that my grandparents were good at playing the real estate game. Among their unlikely coups was buying a house in the 1960′s in Edgartown, the tony enclave on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, whose exclusive address had no correspondence to their income level. If they hadn’t bought it, there’s no way that my journalist’s salary would have been able to scoop up property like that. In the more than three decades that I’ve been going there, I’ve become a regular reader of the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette, the enormous broadsheet newspaper that has resisted the cost-cutting size reductions that many other newspapers in the United States have sustained.

That allegiance to the paper (and its weekly competitor, the Martha’s Vineyard Times), as well as my continuing nostalgia for my former media beat — the future of newspapers, publishing and journalism — made it all the more interesting when I read on Friday that the Reston family is selling the 164-year-old paper to Jerome Kohlberg. It’s the story that has it all for a business reader, really: Daily paper, read by rich and powerful residents who are captains of the financial world (and hopefully Reuters clients), sold to a true bigwig of the private equity world, and a strange connection to The New York Times to boot.

Oct 28, 2010

Thomson Reuters raises revenue forecast

NEW YORK (Reuters) – News and data provider Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO: Quote, Profile, Research)(TRI.N: Quote, Profile, Research) raised its full-year revenue forecast after third-quarter revenue in its Markets division, which serves banks and other financial institutions, rose for the first time in nearly two years.

The results suggest the company’s customers, which also include legal and healthcare professionals, are recovering from the recession that caused widespread cost cuts and layoffs.

Oct 1, 2010
via MediaFile

They’ll always be the Magazine Publishers of America to me

The Magazine Publishers of America said on Friday that it is renaming itself the MPA — The Association of Magazine Media. The notable difference is the omission of the word publishers. Why?

“MPA is underscoring the fact that magazine media content engages consumers globally across multiple platforms, including websites, tablets, smartphones, books, live events and more.”

Jul 29, 2010

Thomson Reuters forecasts return to revenue growth

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp(TRI.TO: Quote, Profile, Research)forecast a return to revenue growth this quarter on stronger sales of its news and financial data terminals and sales of its new WestlawNext database for lawyers.

The company, which reported lower than-expected quarterlyprofit and revenue, also reiterated its forecast that 2010 revenue would be flat to slightly down compared to 2009, and that net sales would strengthen this year.

Jul 26, 2010

Analysis: WikiLeaks cuts a new, wired path for journalism

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – The Pentagon said it could take weeks to determine how much damage WikiLeaks’ release of military documents on the war in Afghanistan did to national security. It took only minutes to gauge its effect on the way people get news.

WikiLeaks posted some 91,000 documents on its website, but to make sure they got attention and heavy exposure, they shared them first with The New York Times, London’s Guardian newspaper and German news magazine Der Spiegel.